8 April 2019
Success for host state at the 2019 Australian Track and Field championships
The week long Australian Track and Field Championships concluded yesterday with the open events held over the last few days. NSW’s women were the most successful with some surprise and high quality winning performances. There was a long over-due breakthrough from Sara Klein in the 400m hurdles and an extraordinarily brave win for Kyle Cranston in the decathlon.
Just off the plane from the world cross country, Paige Campbell’s (SYU) barnstorming season continued as she claimed her first national title, the 3000m steeplechase, in a good time of 9:49.68, finishing 16 seconds ahead of the next Australian.
“It was good (the race). I just tried to stay relaxed and finish strong. I was actually surprised I ran so well. I thought it was unlikely I get the world champs standard today, just with the cross country. We flew in on Tuesday and there was been lots of sleeping and resting.”
It capped an amazing season from Campbell from Zatopek to the world XC trial, national 5000m and 29th at the world XC championships.
High jumper Nicola McDermott (SYU) continued her best ever domestic campaign by cleared her second-best ever height of her career, negotiating 1.92m to win the high jump. She then took three attempts at 1.95m, 1cm above the 1.94m clearance in February which was a world championships qualifier.
Nick Hough (SYU) ran his fastest time for two years outside the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning the 110m hurdles in 13.55 seconds. “It’s good to come out, have a fairly clean race. Only a tenth out of the qualifier, I should be able to get it in Asia or Europe,” Hough said.
Travelling from Dubai to compete at the Australian Track and Field Championships, Chloe Tighe (KEJ) flew to victory in the women’s 1500m clocking 4:11.74, just outside her PB set at the 2018 Commonwealth Games trials where she placed third.
“It just went really quickly,” said Tighe. “All of a sudden there was one lap to go and I kind of went for it. I didn’t have an idea how close they were to me, it was a very hard battle to the end.”
Based in the middle-east as a teacher, she primarily runs road races and her last track race was at the 2018 Commonwealth Games trials.
“I run road races in Dubai, I’ve run a few 10kms, 5kms and just to get myself ready I did some time trials too.”
As the Australian champion, her win means she just needs to run a qualifying time to secure selection for the Doha World Championships.
“It means I get to look ahead for that world champs qualifier now, I have until September to do it. So, it gives me a bit of hope. It’s a reflection of the hard work I’ve put in by myself and it’s been a pretty hard journey over there so I’m glad I’ve got this to show for it now.”
Commonwealth Games team teenager Bendere Oboya (NSW) clocked her second fastest ever time of 52.00 to win the national 400m title. She also just missed the automatic qualifying mark of 51.90 for the world championships. She comfortable defeated Rio Olympian Caitlin Jones (QLD, 53.20) and Angie Blackburn (ACT, 53.36).
From an outside lane, Steve Solomon (RBH) steamed home to take his sixth national 400m title in 45.99, defeating Queenslander Alex Beck 46.31 with NSW’s national leader Tyler Gunn (GOS) the third Australian.
“I’m very happy (another national title). It was a tough one to come into these championships. I had a foot injury that’s been a real mental battle for me. So not having raced individually before tonight, and my heats I just wasn’t there mentally.
“I just had one of those races that maybe only athletes can understand, where if you’re not there mentally your body just doesn’t know what it’s doing. I guess in the 400m you have to take your body to its limit and you can’t get there unless you’re mentally tuned in. So, the last 48 hours was really a mental preparation for me more than physical. I relied heavily on my coach Penny Gillies, my former coach Iryna Dovskina and very good mentor of mine John Steffensen, good friends and family to keep me in a good mindset.
He was also drawn in a difficult outside lane.
“I was really happy with getting lane eight tonight. It allowed me to really hone in on what I needed to do and I’m very happy to open up in just under 46 seconds.
“I might be wrong here, but it’s my belief that it’s hard to come into a race as the champion or the favourite and to execute every time. Although I’ve done it five times, it always creeps in the back of your mind ‘Is this going to be that time where it doesn’t go to plan?’.
Expected to be one of the races of the meet, the men’s 100m lived up to that billing, but the form guide was not followed as ACT 17-year-old Eddie Nketia as a surprise winner. In the end, for favourite Rohan Browning (SYU), three rounds were a stretch as he had missed some training over the last few months.
Nketia clocked 10.22 to take the title ahead of Browning (10.28) and Tasmania’s Jack Hale (10.34). Seventh Australian was Zach Holdsworth (ILL) who clocked a PB 10.36 in the semi-final.
The women’s para ambulant long jump event attracted a strong field across the disability categories. The eventual winner was Summer Giddings (HIL) a F35 cerebral palsy classified athlete, who leapt 3.00m in round two. Single leg amputee, Sarah Walsh (SUT), who has been over five metres this summer, fell short with 4.78m in round four.
The men’s 800m was full of dramas. It started when semi-finals were dropped and the three heats of 11 or 12 athletes were chasing just two automatic qualifying places. As expected, there were casualties in the event, with the summer’s leading 800m athlete until Perth, Jye Perrott (UTN) missing a finals berth. The drama continued into the final when favourite Joseph Deng finished seventh, while his training partner in Victoria, Peter Bol, took the title ahead of two NSW athletes Joshua Ralph (SYU) and Mason Cohen (UTN). For Cohen his time of 1:46.91 represented a breakthrough with his first sub-1:46 after three years running 1:47s.
Behind Lauren Wells’ great run in the 400m hurdles where she dipped under 55 seconds for the first time in her career, Sarah Carli (KEJ) was second Australian in a solid 56.09 seconds, just missing a second world championships qualifier. But there was more action behind her when the perseverance of Sara Klein (ASW) finally paid off as she clocked a near one second PB. She had run 58.02 seconds way back in 2012, then this year she ran four consecutive 57 second times, before smashing through 57 seconds on Sunday afternoon. The time took her to number 10 in Australian history.
A great race was the men’s 1500m where Rorey Hunter (BAN) like at the Commonwealth trials in 2018, finished on the podium amongst a quality field. Up front, Luke Mathews (VIC) held off defending champion Ryan Gregson (VIC) in a slow tactical race.
Defending national steeplechase champion, James Nipperess (SYU), came into the event ranked seventh and was able to defeat all but the national leader for the last two years – Max Stevens. Nipper clocked 8:43.09 for the silver.
Local athlete Alex Hulley (SUT) defended her open women’s hammer throw title with a mark of 65.49m. It was her sixth consecutive podium finish.
The men’s decathlon came down to the last event with just 150 points separating the top-4 with the surprise leader Kyle Cranston (ASW), who was suffering from plantar fasciitis, managing to cross the line in first place amongst the medal contenders, to clinch the title with a score of 7594. It was an extraordinary achievement as he was hampered throughout the competition for example going off a limited runup in the high jump.
Teenager Sarah Jane Clifton-Bligh won the open wheelchair 100m to 800m events with her highest score 174% in the 400m where she clocked 1:37.13 minutes
In the first men’s open final of the championships, Costa Kousparis (NSW), was just below his PB with a throw of 65.11m to take the hammer throw title.
Commonwealth Games representative Alysha Burnett (CHE) scored 5716 points to place second in the open women’s heptathlon.
Other Australian champions included: Mali Lovell T36 800m, Kim Neuenkirchen secured discus, Rosemary Little club throw, James Turner ambulant 400m, Rheed McCracken wheelchair 100m and Luke Bailey wheelchair 200m.
Central Coast’s Tyler Jones clocked a PB time of 41:39.27 to take home the bronze in the 10,000m walk.
After finishing an impressive fifth in the 100m final (following a PB of 11.77 in the semi), teenager Kristie Edwards (UTN) won bronze in the 200m with her third consecutive sub-24 second time. Unfortunately, the fastest in the heat, Jessica Thornton (ILL) damaged her hamstring in the final.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Nick Hough (courtesy of David Tarbotton