By Owen Morgan
On the day the Tokyo Olympics countdown clock clicked down to exactly one year to go, there were two notable guest performances at the Welsh Under-20 Athletics International in Cardiff.
Wales Commonwealth Games hammer thrower Osian Jones bettered his own Welsh record set at a pre-Gold Coast game meeting in Australia last year with an effort of 71.77m.
The North Wales athlete feels there is plenty more to come as he sets his long term goals on the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Meanwhile, Cardiff’s Steve Morris, who competed at the London and Rio Paralympics and is targeting a third appearance in Tokyo, set a new UK T20 record for the mile when he clocked 4.20.99.
Liverpool Harrier Jones says things are heading in the right direction and his sights are firmly fixed on securing a place on the plane to Tokyo, although he hasn’t dismissed the possibility of gaining selection for this year’s World Championships in Doha.
Jones, who will be representing Wales in Portugal next month before competing at the British Championships in Birmingham, said: “I’ll see how the next three or four comps go and then assess to see whether it’s best to get ready for the winter and prepare for Tokyo next year.
“I think it depends what happens with the rest of the season. I feel like I can throw further, but it’s more a case of if it happens (the World Championships) it happens and it’s a massive bonus.
“But for me it’s a case of making sure that I am in the squad for Tokyo.”
The new Welsh record is certainly a step in the right direction for the pharmacist who had been searching for the right formula for some long throws this season.
“It’s been a bit of a tricky start to the season,” said Jones. “Things haven’t really quite clicked and they didn’t quite click today, but it was definitely the best it’s felt.
“There’s definitely a lot more there but it’s nice to get the pressure off now knowing that I’ve PB’d and I’m just going to enjoy the rest of the season.”
Jones was disappointed to finish second at the recent Welsh Senior Championships to rising Cardiff talent Jac Palmer, who went over 70 metres for the first time.
But Jones says Palmer’s emergence can only be good for the sport in Wales. “It’s been really good because that was a massive milestone for Jac last weekend and it’s really good for Welsh throwing having two 70-metre throwers pushing each other to be better, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
However, Jones felt he benefited from the more relaxed atmosphere of competing as a guest at the under-20 international on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old said: “My aim for tonight was just to enjoy it and see what happened, really – to try and execute some technical cues and I felt like I was close. It wasn’t necessarily a competitive environment to be in, but it’s a relaxation sport so when you’re relaxed things go well.
“I feel like I’m close to what I’m capable of, even those fouls tonight were a lot longer, I just need to tighten up into the circle.”
Middle distance athlete Morris is another athlete eyeing the possibility of being in Tokyo next year, especially after his record-breaking effort in the guest mile race, which was perfectly paced by Cardiff team-mate Tom Marshall.
Morris, who is returning to his best form following injury, said after the race: “It was quite comfortable, especially as I’m just getting back from an Achilles injury.
“It’s a good start, I just need to progress in the next few weeks for my proper distance, the 1500m.
“This is only the start, I haven’t done much speed work but I had a great winter and cross country season.
“Tokyo is a goal, it would be fantastic to compete in my third Paralympics. Not just to compete but to challenge for a medal.
“It’s about finding a balance behind my race strategy, what works for me. We’ll wait to see what next year brings.”
The 30-year-old Disability Wales Para Academy athlete has an excellent pedigree on the world stage. At the 2017 IPC World Championship in London he finished fifth in the 800m, fourth in the 1500m and fifth in the 5,000m.
The 2012 Paralympics in London saw him finish sixth in the 1500m, a performance which he matched at the Rio Paralympics four years later.