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Myra Perkins will go hammer and tongs to qualify for Commonwealth Games

A promising hammer thrower in her teens, Myra Perkins once thought that a place among the elite was just a large ball and chain's throw away.

Lured south to Loughborough University, the Falkirk-born athlete had no reason to expect her nascent career to drift off course so badly.

Until Sunday, on the campus where the 22-year-old spends her evenings answering phone calls, the bell seemed to have sounded on her career. Until she delivered a mark of 63.11 metres - beyond the Scottish qualification mark for the Commonwealth Games - Perkins wondered if her time would ever come.

"There have been parts which were frustrating," she says of three years of stagnation. "A lot of tears which my poor coach has had to deal with, tantrums as well. But I made certain decisions, with exams and taking on the chair of the athletics club, knowing it would affect my throwing but it was the only time I'd have that opportunity."

Another chance now beckons. Perkins has to achieve the standard once more before the June 8 deadline to qualify for the Games and then hope that other have taken notice of her performances. With Susan McKelvie chosen by Scotland in advance, Perkins is competing alongside top-ranked Rachel Hunter and Kimberley Reed for one of the remaining places. Distances will be a key criteria but not the sole means to determining who will be picked.

Perkins has acknowledged that the contest for places could go right to the wire, with the quartet having all committed to competitions during the next three weeks. "I'm glad that everyone's coming out and fighting for it so we can all turn around and say we've done the best we can," she adds. "It's just a shame it will be so close but that's sport."

Guy Learmonth had cause for optimism too after he improved his 800m personal best to 1:46.85 yesterday, coming sixth at the IAAF Challenge meeting in Beijing. However, Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz confirmed he will miss England's Commonwealth Games quest to undergo knee surgery.

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