Birkinhead puts his best shot forward to reach final
19 August 2016
ATHLETICS: Olympic debutant Damien Birkinhead feared injury may have ended his Rio dream – now he finds himself in tonight’s men’s shot put final at the Olympic Stadium.
The 23 year-old Victorian qualified ninth for the 12-man final with a best throw of 20.50m to become our first men’s Olympic shot put finalist since Justin Anlezark finished sixth in 2004.
The Aussie improved with each throw in this morning’s qualifying session, opening with a mark of 20.32m then following up with 20.41m
“I’m over the moon,” Birkinhead said.
“I was a bit stressed this morning, thinking qualifying is a bit daunting for everybody.
“After I did that first throw of 20.30m I got a bit more confidence and tried a bit harder and progressed every throw.
“I hope I can do the same in the final.”
Just making the Rio Games was an achievement for Birkinhead, who suffered a serious calf injury in the lead-up to the Games and feared his Olympic dream may be over.
Now, the three-time national champion is aiming for a personal best in the final and is confident he has a big throw in him for tonight’s final.
“I do, because that last one actually felt pretty horrible out of the back, so I just have to work on a few things and hopefully I can put one together and throw it a bit further,” he said.
While Birkinhead, celebrated, there was disappointment for Eleanor Patterson, who missed a place in the women’s high jump final.
The 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medallist successfully cleared her first attempts at 1.85m and 1.89m before failing to clear 1.92m
The Australian finished in 22nd place.
“I’m very disappointed, there’s no doubt about it,” Patterson said.
“I just couldn’t pull it together.
“I was feeling really good, jumping really well and the hit that 2.92m and couldn’t put it together.”