Damien Birkinhead (Vic) is the toast of Australian throwing after the London 2017 IAAF World Championships representative threw a national record of 21.35m to place second in Zagreb (CRO) overnight.
Eclipsing the mark held by his coach, Scott Martin, the performance improves his personal best by 14 centimetres after he hit 21.21m to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last year.
Birkinhead’s series at the Memorijal Borisa Hanzekovica opened with a mark of 20.03, before a throw of 20.13m in round two. He then hit the Australian record mark in round three and closed out his series with distances of 20.52m, 21.16m and 20.72m. Tomas Walsh (NZL) won the event with a best throw of 21.50m.
An athlete with the Victorian Institute of Sport, Birkinhead won bronze with a throw of 21.14m at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships. He was fifth placed in the men’s shot put final at Glasgow 2014, before a start at the IAAF World Championships in 2015 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Competing at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships earlier this month, the 24-year-old threw 19.90m in the qualifying round and did not progress to the final.
Birkinhead now boasts 12 Commonwealth Games ‘A’ Standards for Gold Coast 2018, with victory in the nomination trial at the Australian Athletics Championships in February enough to ensure his automatic nomination to Commonwealth Games Australia for selection.