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Moray hammer thrower Mark Dry sees his fourth Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as a "free hit"

By Craig Christie

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JUBILANT Mark Dry sees a fourth Commonwealth Games as a “free shot” at glory following a turbulent sporting journey.

Mark Dry won bronze at the last Commonwealth Games in Australia's Gold Coast. Photo: Mark Stearman
Mark Dry won bronze at the last Commonwealth Games in Australia's Gold Coast. Photo: Mark Stearman

The 34-year-old, who was brought up in Burghead and competed for Elgin Amateur Athletics Club in his youth, has earned his Scotland spot for the Birmingham Games against all the odds.

On his selection being announced, Dry immediately expressed his delight on Facebook, speaking about his controversial athletics ban and serious injuries which would have forced many to quit the sport they love - but not him.

He described in an emotional post how he felt “afraid and bullied and hung out to dry” during his turbulent career and was reduced to tears at his lowest points.

Speaking to the Northern Scot, Dry spoke about working seven day weeks to make enough money so he can rest up for periods and put some training in ahead of Birmingham.

He reminisced on his three previous Commonwealth Games, including bronze medal-winning efforts at Glasgow in 2014 and Gold Coast four years ago.

“It’s a huge honour to be there and after everything I’ve been through, I’ve got the high ground and I can’t lose really no matter what I do,” he said.

“I’ve got a free shot at a medal but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all for me. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try my absolute best, but I’m under no illusions about just pulling it out in the last round and I’ll be fine.

“I’m getting better at dealing with anything that gets thrown at me. Nothing bothers me anymore.”

Dry was only able to resume his athletics career at the turn of the year following a controversial 28-month ban imposed on him by the United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority (UKAD).

He was initially banned for four years for falsely declaring his whereabouts when he paid his parents a visit in Burghead, the severity of his penalty sparking outrage in the athletics world.

When Dry made the podium at the last Commonwealth Games, he had been on crutches a few months earlier having had major hip surgery

“After the two hip reconstructions before Gold Coast I thought I had no chance,” he said on his Facebook post. “To now come back after a resurfacing/replacement and wrongfully banned and have the laws unjustfully bent, misinterpreted and abused.

“Those who get knocked down time and time and time again and keep getting up for more.”

Dry says competing at the revamped Alexander Stadium in a month’s time in the Commonwealth hammer competition is a step into the unknown.

“None of us have thrown in that circle in Birmingham or competed there so it is an environment that is completely alien to us,” he said.

“It will all come down to what the circle is like and the conditions on the day, then it comes down to who can put it down and who can not feel the pressure as much, dig deep and do what you need to do in championships.”

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