Rugby hammer thrower Craig Murch selected for Commonwealth Games
It will be the 29-year-old’s first major championships after years of dedication to the sport - and he is looking forward to stepping out into the athletics stadium in Birmingham.
While Craig started his career as a youngster with Rugby & Northampton AC - who made him a life member last year- his first claim club is now Birchfield Harriers, so the Games will be held at his home track.
“I’m hoping for a medal - I want a medal,” said Craig, who fits his training around working full-time as a Director at CGI, an IT consultancy business and will be competing against full-time athletes.
It means lots of early starts, up at 5.30am to train before work and in the evenings too which makes planning his week essential.
He’s ranked sixth in the Commonwealth thanks to a throw of 72.69m this season and with training going well he knows he can find that extra distance to earn a place on the podium.
“I know I’m going to need at least 74 metres and I’m going to have to set a PB, but I’m feeling confident,” said Craig, whose parents Kevin and Debbie and sister Kerry are all R&N athletes.
“I’m very consistent and you need consistency to find that one big throw. That’s what my focus will be on.”
Craig’s previous best is 73.64m.
“It’ll be my first experience of a major championship and I’m expecting to be quite emotional when I walk out into the stadium, so much so that I am planning to watch one of the sessions earlier in the week so I get over that. I’ll know what it’s like without being overwhelmed by it.”
Craig is coached by Lorraine Shaw, the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medal hammer winner.
“When I was told I’d made the team it was a relief,” said the Loughborough computer science graduate.
“I’d had quite a slow start to the season and qualifying was more of a struggle than I’d expected, but now I’m focused on the Games - three throws in qualifying and six in the final.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m representing England in my first major international in front of a home crowd in my home stadium with family and friends watching.
"I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”
As well as getting behind Craig in his bid for an athletics medal, Rugby’s sports fans will also be keen to support bowls player Jamie-Lea Winch as she embarks on her third Commonwealth Games.
The 31-year-old will help spearhead a 16-strong England team in Birmingham this summer, bidding to build on her Delhi 2010 bronze and Glasgow 2014 silver from the triples and pairs events.
“Bowls and the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of the sport.
"We want to go there and play our best bowls - we’re working really hard in preparation," said the former Bilton BC and Thornfield star.
“Gold is the colour we’re aiming for. I’ve had bronze and silver in past Games so it would be brilliant to top it off with a gold medal.“It’s about making sure we can make the most of the opportunity.”