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Campbell throws in the towel . . . then a qualifying distance

There have been, James Campbell acknowledged, many evenings of despair over the past three years when the pains in his body and the traumas in his mind made the pursuit of a place at the Commonwealth Games seem a futility.

Saturday, the Scottish javelin record-holder confirmed, was just another day when there seemed little point in trying to rescue a career that held promise before injuries struck.

After throwing shy of 66 metres on the opening day of the Bedford International Games, the 26-year-old went back to Loughborough feeling embarrassed and despondent. "I'd pretty much decided I was retiring. I just went home and had a large pizza and a Ben & Jerry's and I'd given up. I got up on Sunday morning at 10.30 but it was only at 11.45 that I thought 'sod it, I'll go down and give it a go'."

It proved a prescient decision. With his third attempt yesterday, Campbell - in only his fifth competition in three years - produced a throw of 70.36 metres that will surely see him named in Scotland's team for Hampden when it is finalised following the qualification cut-off next weekend.

His inclusion will be both popular and inspirational following his recent candid disclosure of how setbacks had left him depressed and demotivated. "I just needed to relax and accept I'm not where I want to be yet after being out for so long," he said. "I'm not an 80-metre thrower at the moment. It will take time to get back."

The rush for times and distances has become frantic. Jake Wightman, with victory at the BMC Grand Prix in Manchester, all but cemented his 1500m berth with eight-hundredths of a second to spare. "I'd have been kicking myself if I hadn't got it," the European Under-20 champion said.

It is likely he will be accompanied by Mark Mitchell, who broke through the 3:42.20 standard for the second time in Oordegem, Belgium, where Stephen Lisgo also nailed down his place in the 3000m steeplechase with a victorious time of 8:38.68.

Othe rs must now beat the clock, including Gillian Cooke, the former world bobsleigh champion. Seeking to compete in a third Commonwealth Games, she delivered a long jump of 6.22m in Bedford on Saturday to press her claims but neither she nor Lisa Ferguson could get the qualifying distance yesterday.

Myra Perkins, the Falkirk-born hammer thrower, will be at the centre of the most intriguing selection dilemma of all after twice going beyond the benchmark of 60m in Bedford. On each occasion, she trailed the top-ranked Scot Rachel Hunter but beat the Edinburgh-based teenager Kimberley Reed. With only two vacancies, one faces a devastating exclusion. "It's just a case of concentrating on me," said Perkins.

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