Britain’s Mick Jones claims M45 world record in the hammer throw
Seoul Olympian Mick Jones turns 47 in July, but he still throws the 16-pound hammer like a kid. On June 5, at a British Athletic League meet at London’s Barnet Copthall Stadium, Mick spun the hammer an amazing 70.36 meters (230-10). That demolished the listed M45 world record of 67.74 (222-3) by Russian legend Yuriy Sedykh in 2001. Results of Mick’s meet are here. His last claim to fame was winning gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, when he was 39. His all-time best is 76.43 (250-9). Here’s a nice sequence of Mick in his hammer heyday.
In July 2002, Duncan Mackay wrote this revealing profile of Mick:
Mick Jones spent the day after he won the hammer celebrating in Manchester with his family and enjoying the rare luxury of basking in the media spotlight. In the evening he received his gold medal and had to choke back the tears as 38,000 people sung the anthem in his honour.
Then at 2am he jumped in his car and drove home so he could start work as a masseur again the following afternoon. “I’ve got a living to make,” said Jones. “I had a client booked in and I didn’t want to let them down.”
Unlike the other English medallists the 39-year-old Jones is not going to Munich for the European Championships because he did not achieve the qualifying distance. If that is an indication that his performance in Manchester fell short of the world-class standards achieved by the likes of Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards, then Jones does not care.
“The whole thing has been an awesome experience,” he said. “It feels like I’m watching someone else do all this.”
Jones is rather less well off than the Australian rivals he beat, who are nurtured by a system supporting all track and field disciplines. Recalling that he once bought a pair of trainers in a car boot sale, he said: “I have no sponsor, the smallest amount of lottery funding and some help from Starmax [a nutrition company] and that’s that.”
He has criticised the levels of lottery funding for throwers and explained how he would have to throw 80.90 metres – further than it took to win Olympic gold two years ago – to receive the same backing as Edwards or Radcliffe. “While they’ve been training I’ve been looking out for jobs and training till half past 11 at night,” said Jones. “If I’m struggling, then what about the future of hammer?”
He hopes that from the prime-time television audience which watched him throw for gold, there will be some youngsters who will want to follow in his footsteps. “They might think, ‘I’m that size, I want a go’,” he said.
But because Jones cannot throw more than 80 metres, required by Sport England to put him in the category of athletes receiving maximum lottery funding of up to ВЈ27,000 a year, he reckons his talent will remain untapped. “Take me away and put me in Jonathan [Edwards], Steve [Backley] or Paula’s [Radcliffe] shoes and I’d be as good as them,” he said.
But despite the difficulties he has faced, Jones has no plans to retire. “I wanted to win the Commonwealth Games. It was like my backyard and I was privileged to have people cheering me,” he said. “Now, having missed out on Sydney, I want to make it to another Olympics.”