MERVYN Luckwell says he was a nervous wreck before his London 2012 Olympic place was confirmed on Tuesday – but once it was, he was free to celebrate the biggest day of his life.
The 27-year-old javelin star was informed of the good news just a couple of hours before the official announcement was made public by UK Athletics, with 77 athletes picked to wear the red, white and blue of Team GB in the Olympic Stadium in August.
Among them will also be Greg Rutherford whose long-jump spot was made safe a few months ago, taking Milton Keynes’ confirmed Olympian count to five, with table tennis player Andrew Baggaley, handball goalkeeper Bobby White and cyclist Ian Stannard also set for action in the capital from late July.
For Luckwell the wait for that all-important phone call was an extremely anxious one. Although he is the only British thrower to have achieved the ‘A’ standard for automatic qualification, a recent knee injury picked up in Bedford had left him with some doubt.
And that doubt was perfectly understandable given head coach Charles Van Commenee’s policy of only selecting in-form athletes for the team, with several shocks and disappointed faces emerging in the aftermath of his selection announcement.
However, despite missing out on the Olympic Trials with that injury to his right knee, Luckwell had done enough to earn a place in the biggest competition of his life having thrown over 80m three times this season – most recently at the Bedford Games in June.
“When I got the call from one of the coaches I was over the moon. I started jumping around, trying not to land on my right foot!” he said.
“It’s such a great honour to be selected for your country and to compete in front of a home crowd in an incredible stadium.
“This is one of the biggest days of my life. I’m glad my girlfriend was there next to me when I took the call. I’ve got such a big smile on my face.”
Luckwell admitted to becoming extremely nervous in the two days leading up to the announcement, even scanning through Facebook and Twitter searching for news of other British athletes confirming their selection.
And as the hours went by on Tuesday he grew ever more edgy until the phone finally rang and his place was confirmed.
Now Luckwell can focus on the job at hand, but he doesn’t have long with the javelin qualifying round taking place on the evening of August 8 – just five weeks away.
The final is four days later, and Luckwell believes he will have to throw a new personal best to get through, but also says that’s well within his capability.
His PB stands at 83.52m, which would have been good enough for fifth place in Beijing in 2008, and the European Championship title was won in Helsinki last weekend with 83.72m.
Luckwell has rarely had the chance to rub shoulders with the best throwers in the world, and admits that he’s slightly going into the unknown of top flight competition.
But he should take great pride from being the sole British male selected for the javelin, and will no doubt do his home city proud, whatever happens.
Meanwhile Greg Rutherford has his eyes firmly set on Olympic gold now that his place in Team GB has been officially confirmed.
He is joined by fellow Brit Chris Tomlinson who should consider himself quite lucky to have made the squad given his poor season.
Rutherford’s Olympic stock has risen dramatically in the last few months since he jumped 8.35m to equal Tomlinson’s British record earlier this year, and took pride of place at Tuesday’s selection press conference alongside head coach Van Commenee. The long-jump event gets going on August 3.
This week also saw the British handball squad confirmed, with Bobby White selected as captain.
The 29-year-old will lead the team from the back as goalkeeper when they begin their first ever Olympic campaign at the Copper Box arena on July 29.
The 12 nations taking part are divided into two pools of six, with the top four in each progressing to the quarter-finals.