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Back in the Scotland athletics team, Moray hammer star and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Mark Dry is working seven days a week to make a living and still pushing for a place in Birmingham Games this summer


By Craig Christie

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Exhausted Mark Dry won’t let seven-day working weeks get in the way of his Commonwealth Games dream.

Back in Burghead with his Commonwealth Games medal from 2018, Mark Dry wants another shot at glory – but needs help. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Back in Burghead with his Commonwealth Games medal from 2018, Mark Dry wants another shot at glory – but needs help. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The 34-year-old Moray hammer ace this week celebrated a recall to the Scotland team for the Loughborough international meeting at the Paula Radcliffe stadium later this month.

Dry was only able to resume his athletics career a few months ago 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 imposing his whereabouts when he paid his parents a visit in Burghead, the severity of his penalty sparking outrage in the athletics world.

But the former Elgin Amateur Athletics Club star, who won bronze at each of the last two Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Gold Coast, is determined to make his fourth consecutive Games in Birmingham this year.

Many years ago he lost his place on the British Athletics support funding programme and has to pay for his own competing and travel, while every available hour of the week to make a living and continue in his sport.

Juggling his work and training has left him shattered and he needs to be able to devote time to balance hard training rest to get him in better shape for a shot at international competition.

Dry says financial support would help him unleash his full potential in Birmingham if he can persuade the Scotland selectors to put him in the team again.

“I’m positive, but I am also frustrated that I am so fatigued,” he said.

“I’m just working flat out and trying to build up enough money that I can take some time off before the Commonwealths. But I also need to put myself in the position to make the team.

“I’ve been working seven days a week for the last three weeks or so and I’m just exhausted.

“I’m healthy but I’m borderline on running that exhaustion line of burning that candle at both ends.

"Will I end up picking injuries in that zone? That’s somewhere I don’t want to be.

“I’m not getting enough training in, I’m not getting enough rest in and it’s a nearly impossible balance.”

Dry combined a sports therapy job with trade work in the hospitality industry when Covid struck and forced him to look for alternative employment.

He has taken on scaffolding and joinery work and travelled the length and breadth of England from his Loughborough base in an effort to fund his continuing athletics career.

This year he has twice thrown the qualifying distance for the Commonwealth Games in competitions this year and just needs to persuade the selectors that he can win a medal like he did in Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast four years later.

"I have fulfilled the selection criteria but it will solely come down to whether I am nominated by Scottish Athletics and whether, if I am nominated, Commonwealth Games Scotland will accept that nomination.

"There’s no reason why not, but they are looking at 24 places and they are expecting about 34 people to qualify.

"I don’t know how many currently have the standard but there is going to be in the ball park of ten people who have qualified for the Commonwealth Games who won’t be selected.

"I have a strong argument that I have previously won them two medals and I went in ranked to the last Commonwealths, but that is no divine right for selection in the policy that if you are Mark Dry, they will give you a go.

"I’m in the same boat as everyone else. I’ve got to do my best within the qualifying window.

"If I can drop more standards before that and throw a little bit further and climb higher up the rankings, I’ll increase my chances.

"If I don’t go over the standard again, that would obviously hinder my chances.

"I plan on staying healthy and doing a bit more but I’m just exhausted right now."

Dry has been working up and down the country to build up enough money so he can can some time off to rest his weary body for a period, then thrust himself into full-time training should he gain selecting for Birmingham.

Even his seven-day working weeks have not been enough to do this and he is hoping businesses will back his efforts.

“I’m trying to find a couple of sponsors and maybe if I get about £2000 together, I reckon I could take the last two months off before the Commonwealths and train full time before it.

"Working flat out now and not making the team isn’t going to help me take two months off before the Commonwealths either if I’m not on the team.

"If I can throw a 70 metres like this, if I could just train properly for two months and recover properly, I really think I could find three or four metres - and that puts me in medal territory.

"I can’t promise x, y and z but if I can make the team, I’m in with a chance.

"Everyone is in with a chance. You can say that for everyone but I know I’m in with a chance, I have a history of it and I have to take confidence from that.

"I’m not going to back myself to just pull a miracle out in the last round, that’s nearly impossible. But if anyone has a right to back themselves, it’s me.

"I just really feel I’m close enough that if i got enough time to get a platform it can give me a boost to put me right in the fight.

"I will absolutely give it my best but I’m not going there thinking it will be sound and I will just get angry and smash one in the last round and pull off a fairytale.

"I don’t want to be left thinking after the competition that I have just relied on reputation or whatever.

"I don’t want to rely on anything, I want to do the work and do my best and if I don’t come up with enough then that is fine. I want to rely on hard work and results, not reputation."

He is relishing the opportunity on May 22 to produce a strong performance at Loughborough, where he smashed the Scottish hammer record with a mighty throw of 76.93 metres seven years ago and has made the best three throws of his career, all above 76 metres.

"I’m ecstatic about it. It’s not the Commonwealth Games but it’s always been a competition close to my heart.

"When I’ve competed at Loughborough it’s always been a high level of competition and it is always an honour to pull on your country’s vest.

"You never know when that last time is that you put that vest on, whether you aren’t good enough any more or you get injured and your career is over or circumstances change and you have to stop whatever it is.

"With everything that’s gone on, between my hip and the case and everything else I might never have worn a Scotland vest or a British vest ever again.

"With an opportunity to do that, I need to get to next week in one piece first but at least I have been selected.

"Putting this vest on is extremely important to me."


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