Luke Cutts has returned from Australia and settled back into life in Thurnscoe with another medal for his collection and an increased desire to compete for at least another four years so he can finish his career with a Commonwealth Games medal of every colour.
The pole vaulter has returned to his job as a van-fitter this week, having claimed bronze for England in Gold Coast earlier this month, four years after winning silver in Glasgow.The Commonwealths come back to the UK in 2022 in Birmingham and the athletics will be hosted at the Alexander Stadium where national record holder Cutts has won a host of British titles.
He told the Chronicle: “I was really pleased with bronze. My only intention going over there was to get a medal and I did that so I have got to be happy. I am really happy to have two Commonwealth Games medals. “I’ve got to carry on now for four years to get gold at the next one and complete the set.
“With it being in Birmingham, it’s a really good one to aim for. It’s a venue I’ve had a lot of success at so I would love to keep going for that one.It’s a long time and a lot of money with no funding, but I feel really motivated and it’s what I am aiming for.”
Cutts’ coach Trevor Fox, from Barnsley, added: “It’s very realistic for Luke to go for gold in Birmingham. He knows he has been very close in the last two Commonwealth Games so he will be determined to win gold. It being in Birmingham will give him home advantage and he will be in his comfort zone as he has been very successful there in the past.“It’s not easy for him, training and holding a full-time job, but he’s very committed.
"He’s not going to be on funding unless he jumps a lot higher because UK Athletics only give you funding if they think you are performing at a level where you can win a medal at the next Olympics in Tokyo.”
Cutts is still hoping to compete at those Olympics in Japan in 2020 as well as the World Championships in Doha, Qatar next year.His more immediate targets are the British Championships in late June as well as the European Championships in Berlin, Germany in August. Cutts competed in the 2009 World Championships in the same city and, to go back there for the Europeans, he will have to clear the qualifying height of 5.55m which is 28 centimetres short of his personal best but ten centimetres higher than the season’s best which won Commonwealth bronze.
He finished ahead of England and Dearne AC team-mate Adam Hague, from Rotherham, who cleared the same height but with more attempts. Cutts said: “As soon as I cleared 4.45m on my first attempt I knew I had a really good chance of a medal. In a close competition like that, you need to make sure you go over first time as much as you can so that you finish above others on countback.
“Adam has improved a lot recently so I knew he was going to be good competition but I just managed to finish ahead of him on the day. I enjoy my battles with him in training and in competitions and hopefully that can continue for quite a few years.”
Cutts believes he would have been close to winner Kurtis Marschall, from Australia, and Canadian silver medalist Shawn Barber if his equipment had been better. He said: “I think I could have challenged the top two if I had had better poles. I went through all the ones I had in my bag and used the stiffest one, but it could have been better. “Hopefully I will get some new poles now for the rest of the season and that will help me.”
Fox said: “The extra adrenaline of the major competition, which made them put more force through the pole than usual, and the temperature out there meant the poles weren’t performing as they normally would.”
Fox, who coaches both Cutts and Hague, was proud of each athlete but believes they could have both claimed medals had they been less sporting. He said: “I was delighted with their performance in what was a strong, competitive field – not a mediocre one. I am as proud as punch. I think I am probably the only English coach who had two athletes in the same event – certainly the only unpaid volunteer coach.
“It was tense watching them compete. I think Luke’s experience just edged it for him.“I thought they could have both got medals if they had put off Barber on his final jump. But that isn’t very sporting and those two lads wouldn’t do that.”