By Paul Eddison in Birmingham
Joel Clarke-Khan has been coming to Alexander Stadium for the best part of a decade but he has never known it like this.
The 22-year-old from Worcester was making his Commonwealth Games debut in the men’s high jump, finishing fifth with a leap of 2m22.
And while there was some frustration at knowing that his lifetime best would have won the gold medal, it was also an eye-opening experience.
I was thinking when I was laid down that I’ve been jumping here since England Schools when I was jumping 1.76,” said Clarke-Khan, whose career is supported by Pitching In, a grassroots investment programme set up by Entain - owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – in partnership with SportsAid.
🗣️ "This stadium and this crowd has been unbelievable. I don’t think it’s going to get much bigger than this. "
Huge congratulations to our very own @Joelclarkekhan for a memorable Commonwealth Games debut at @birminghamcg22 👇https://t.co/of78ou9P3t
— Pitching In (@PitchingIn_) August 4, 2022
“For me, I’ve progressed through and competed in one of the biggest events I’m ever going to do here so it really is amazing.
“You learn so much, and this stadium and this crowd has been unbelievable. It’s about learning how to cope with all this. You’re constantly over-aroused so it’s about keeping a cool head. I don’t think it’s going to get much bigger than this. “Now that I’ve done this, I feel a lot more relaxed going into other environments.”
Clarke-Khan cleared 2m22 at the last attempt, but could not make it over 2m25, the winning height for New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr.
And while he was thrilled to have got his first taste of the Commonwealth Games, the ambition now is to break new ground and starting picking up some silverware.
He added: “I’m quite disappointed to be honest. I really wanted to come away with a medal and to know that 2.25 was the gold medal, I’m more than capable of doing that. I did fight, I did what I could on the night. 2.25 is still a high bar for me, I’ve only cleared it once in my life, 2.27 once.
“I’m happy that I’ve got consistent jumping but it would be nice to bring a PB in a Championship and I’m ready for some silverware. I’ve got plenty of years though, I’m still very young, this is my first Commonwealth Games so I’m just excited to go on to the next one.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.