23 January 2012
Proud Katherine upstages big names
Shortly after arriving in a stretch limo and being introduced to the crowd, a quality discus field got down to business at Saturday night’s Hunter Track Classic. World champion Dani Samuels (Westfields/NSWIS), World Championship finalist Benn Harradine (VIS) and American Ross Winger attract much attention but it was a former Newcastle athlete, now based at the AIS, Katherine Proudfoot, who stole the show.
An almost certain started at the London Paralympics, Proudfoot, an F36 classification athlete, threw a world record of 26.81m on her third throw.
The 2012 Hunter Track Classic reached new heights as an attractive all round show of fun, entertainment and good action.
“I think the vibe was there,” Meet Director Scott Westcott said.
“The big names came out and they had fun. I think the crowd got into it and enjoyed the meet and from most accounts the athletes are happy and relaxed and put on a good show. We are never going to compete with Sydney and Melbourne. Our role is to provide a good regional meet that athletes enjoy coming too.”
Winger threw the longest distance on the day with his sixth round effort of 60.21m, followed by Samuels’ 59.03m, ahead of the silver-suited Harradine who threw 58.37m.
“I was actually pretty pleased for my first meet in January to go 60m,” Winger said.
“There was bit of a tail wind which doesn’t help and I had a couple of decent fouls.”
Winger is in line for Olympic selection in both the shot and discus.
“I think my world ranking is better in the shot, but I’m more consistent in the discus,” he said.
“Actually in the discus I just started to figure things out last year and had a couple of good competitions. The shot is very strong in the States right now, but anything can happen.”
Samuels threw her best in Round 4.
“Conditions and atmosphere were fantastic and I felt fantastic in my warm-up, so I was disappointed with the distance compared with how I felt,” she said.
“My furthest throw today didn’t feel great at all, so I guess that is a positive.”
Attracting less attention was the good performance by Taylah Sengul (Hills). The Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist raised her personal best to 51.11m and impressively exceeded the World Junior Championships qualifying standard of 47.50m on all six throws.
Proudfoot has excelled under the coaching guidance of former decathlete Aaron Holt and javelin thrower Emily Nolan.
``Their patience, enthusiasm and expertise have been critical to both my enjoyment of throwing and the improvements I have made this year,’’ Proudfoot said. ``I am very excited to have broken the world record. I broke it unofficially a few months ago so it is really great to have repeated the performance at a meet where it can be officially recognised.
``The previous record was set at the Beijing Paralympics so I have been chasing it for a few years now. Quite apart from breaking the record, to have thrown over 26m at two meets is really important in the lead up to the Paralympics as it gives me the confidence that I am developing the consistency to throw the distances I will need to medal in London. I would also like to thank all the dedicated people at the Australian Institute of Sport, Athletics Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure everything is in place to facilitate good performances. I'm looking forward to the opportunity of competing again at the Sydney Track Classic in February.’’
A strong field lined up in the men’s 1500m, but it was teenager Jordan Williamsz (VIS) who claimed the win in 3:39.74, ahead of national half-mile champion James Kaan (UTS Norths/NSWIS) 3:40.30 and British Commonwealth Games medallist Nick McCormick 3:40.80. There was big personal best by half-mile specialist Lachlan Renshaw (Sydney Uni/NSWIS) 3:42.13. Mingara 20-year-olds Josh Wright (3:44.68) and Cameron Page (3:45.13) clocked personal bests while teenager Jesse Beadman (also Mingara) was within two second of a world junior qualifying in a time of 3:49.19.
FAREWELL TAMSYN (LEWIS) MANOU
After winning the 400m, Tamsyn Manou (VIS) announced what many had been afraid of was inevitable.
“I’m so sorry this is it. This is my last year,” she said in a post race interview.
With that short statement the curtain has begun to close on the career of the one of the sport’s best athletes. But she will always remain one of the sports’ great ambassadors.
“As you can see tonight, there are some great girls coming through, so I don’t think I’ll be needed,’’ she said.
But Manou’s perfect exit from the sport has not gone exactly to plan.
“I’ve had a weird preparation with six weeks of rehabilitation in November, so I felt a little under prepared tonight,’’ she said.
``I did pool sessions and all that boring stuff, but managed to hold my fitness.
“Definitely the 800m is the goal for London. I know I’m not in great shape yet due to the injury. I’m lucky I have an unreal coach who does the worrying and I do the running.’’
How will she go next week in Adelaide in her season 800m debut?
“I don’t know. I didn’t know what I was going to be able to give tonight, but I’m happy with it. I can’t tell you until next week – I’m training all right, nowhere near my best but it’s OK.”
In her season debut on Saturday night she won in 53.14, ahead of local Pirrenee Steinert (Macquare-Hunter/NSWIS) 53.57 and Caitlin Pincott (QAS) 53.70.
Manou had supportive words for Steinert.
“She is a good athlete and a hometown favourite here. I know she didn’t win today, but the way she ran that race and attacked it, her times will come down later in the year.”
Steinert was puzzled by her performance.
“I’m not sure how it was. I think I went out really well but I just didn’t expect what happened in the last 100m when I died. I’ll get a lot out of the race finding out what I did, and didn’t do, and I’ll learn from that for next time.”
One of the best events in Australia this season has been the men’s javelin. Most opened their season last week in Brisbane, but it was a different result in the Hunter on Saturday night.
Last week, Hamish Peacock (TIS) was the winner with 77.34, and a week earlier on the Gold Coast Josh Robinson (Qld) nailed a throw of 78.24m. On Saturday night, Matt Outzen (Westfields/NSWIS) claimed the spoils with a fourth round winning throw of 78.16m, ahead of Robinson (76.81m), American Mike Hazel (76.16m) and Peacock (76.01).
Outzen, who has battled injuries over the last few years, looks capable of surpassing his personal best of 79.41m and along with Peacock and Robinson, reaching the Olympic standard of 82.00m and joining the preselected Jarrod Bannister in London.
In fifth place was Elliott Lang (Asics Wests) who nailed four World Junior Championships qualifying throws topped by a personal best of 68.75m. He is in a four-way battle for two World Junior places with Victorian Luke Cann (67.73m), Queenslander Willie White (72.65m) and WA’s Cruz Hogan (67.56m).
``Considering I had surgery on my knee in September and the preparation I had leading into the competion I am rapt with the way that I threw,’’ Outzen said. ``There are more meters to come in the upcoming events. Once I get more work into my full run up I think my series will be more consistant. Missing all of last seson due to injury it was great to be back with such a competitive field, and to win. I am stoked. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and chasing that Olypmic dream.’’
SPRINTS AND HURDLES
A comfortable winner of the men’s 400m was Central Coast’s Matt Lynch (Mingara) in a personal best time of 46.45.
“Relief,” was how Lynch described his result.
“My first 400 two years ago was 46.6 then it was a torn hamstring and a broken leg. I couldn’t get back down there. Hopefully it will just keep coming now.”
It was a good time in the not ideal conditions.
“It was tough coming home. At Mingara we always train with a wind down the back straight; so with a tail wind down the back straight tonight I probably went out too hard!”
Starring in the sprints and hurdles was Nicholas Hough (Hills/NSWIS) with two World Junior Championship qualifying performances in the 200m and 110m hurdles. In tricky conditions Hough ran 13.81, outside of his personal best of 13.73, but well under the Barcelona standard of 14.10. In the 200m he was second to Queenslander Andrew McCabe 21.29 to 21.31, ahead of 2010 Delhi 4x400m relay gold medalists Kevin Moore (Mingara/NSWIS) 21.39 and Sean Wroe (Vic) 21.66.
Coach Anthony Benn was happy with Hough’s performances considering his light preparation due to HSC and final year school commitments. The former King’s School student has just been accepted to do an IT/law double degree at Sydney University.
In the men’s 100m, Tim Leathart (Sydney Pacific) won his third consecutive race in 2012 running 10.57 into a headwind.
“I think technically it was the best race I've done ever,” said Leathart who is running himself into London Olympic relay selection contention.
“I started well and the rest of the race just came together. Even though it wasn't the fastest I've run this season it was a really positive win.
“I've been working on my starts a lot at training because it’s something I've always struggled with and I think I've begun to finally get it right. I just want to get races under my belt where I am running well.”
Coach John Patchett was pleased with Leathart’s effort. ``He normally doesn’;t get a great start,’’ he said.
Another athlete putting herself into London Olympic relay selection contention is Jess Knox (UTS Norths). The 33-year-old now in her career best form clocked 11.94 into a strong headwind as she streeted the 100m which included two internationals Chrystal Attenborough (Qld) and Laura Whaler (Macquaire Hunter/NSWIS).
“Last night wasn't as quick as I'd have liked but my body gave into a virus this week so despite not feeling 100 per cent I'm not disappointed as it was a nice boost in confidence to still pull off a win with a respectable time into a headwind,” said Knox.
“After my run at Blacktown (11.60s) and then backing it up in Brisbane last week I'm so excited by how things are going. I can't give enough credit to Penny Gillies and Brice Johnson for the way they've coached me over the last six months.”
Knox was slow away, nursing a tight hamstring. However she exploded to the lead halfway down the straight to win easily. She withdrew from the 200m as a precaution against in juring her hamstring.
AIS training partners Brendan Cole and Lauren Boden won the 400m hurdles and both impressed with times of 50.41 and 56.14 respectively.
“I made some mistakes but it’s my first race over 400m hurdles this season and I think it is my fastest opener. I felt quite good finishing off, so I’m really happy with it,” Cole said.
Asked about his 4x400m relay team prospects for London he said: “I’ve run some good relay legs in the past, unfortunately I don’t do many flat 400s, so it’s hard to pick me over the guys that always runs 400s.”
Boden used the race as an opportunity to try a new stride pattern.
“I tried something a bit different today. Because it was windy down the back I tried a couple of 14s (strides) which worked well. It is always good to try new things so when you can come across any conditions and you will be all right.” Her usual stride pattern is 15s to the seventh or eighth hurdle.
“It was faster than my runs last week, so I’m getting better with each race,“ she said.
“There is definitely more than a second improvement there,” which is all she needs for an Olympic qualifier.
“I’m trying to get that qualifier and a pb this season; I think we are well on the way.”
Behind Boden were four juniors who are vying for World Junior Championship selection. Second was Tessa Consedine (Vic) in 59.13, third Sarah Carli (Kembla Joggers/NSWIS) 59.90, fourth Sara Klein (Asics Wests) 60.52 and sixth Chloe Jamieson (AIS) 62.34.
Australia’s rising 1500m star Zoe Buckman (VIS) won her favorite event in 4:09.26 ahead of Georgie Clarke (Vic).
“I’m really happy with that today, a good hit out,” she said. “The pacemaker did her job and it was good to get a feel of racing on the track.” Her winning time broke the meet record which Clarke set 10 years ago. There were good performances by NSW athletes, half-miler Sianne Toemoe (UTS Norths/NSWIS) in a pb of 4:24.83 and teenage cross country representative Celia Sullohern (Macquarie Hunter) in 4:29.16.
In the men’s 800m, James Gurr (UTS Norths) continued his tremendous season form winning at leisure in 1:48.77.
“It just didn’t click today. I felt a little flat and the conditions weren’t ideal. It is another run under the belt,” he said.
“This was my third straight week of hard training and maybe it has caught up with me a little bit.” Once again Gurr had to make all the front running in the second lap after the pace-maker dropped out.
OTHER ACTION ON THE NIGHT:
- Women’s Hammer: Gabrielle Neighbour (VIC) won easily (65.24), teenager Danielle McConnell (TIS) recorded another World Junior Championship qualifier 56.38m
- Women’s high jump: NSW’s Trudy Thompson raised her pb by 1cm to clear 1.87m. She continues to chase the Olympic standard of 1.95m.
- Men’s high jump exhibition: Nick Moroney (Macquaire Hunter) won with a clearance at 2.08m
- Women’s triple jump: Linda Allen (Vic) leapt an excellent 13.55m while three NSW athletes placed behind her continue to chase World Junior Championship qualifiers: Josie Nichol, Amy Pejkovic and Natalie Apikotoa.
- Women’s shot: Kim Mulhall (VIS) won with 15.10m from NSW’s Taylah Sengul who recorded a 37cm personal best of 14.47m, just 3cm short of a World Junior Championship qualifying performance.
- Men’s shot: Commonwealth Games representatives Dale Stevenson (VIS) and Emanuele Fuamata (SAM) putted 19.11m and 18.65m ahead of American Russ Winger 18.62m.
- Women’s 200m: a surprise winner was Victoria’s Kendra Hubbard in 24.44.
- Little Athletics challenge: ACT won the teams competition .
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Benn Harradine (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)