Three state championships highlighted the weekend of athletics, just one week out from the Australian 20km Race Walking Championships and less than a fortnight from the Australian Athletics Championships – both nomination trials for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Emerging talents, such as South Australian steeplechaser, Max Stevens and Sydney sprinter Anas Abu-Ganaba illustrate that the prospect of a home Commonwealth Games can be quite the carrot and a few selection surprises could be in store.
NSW Open, U23 & Para Championships
The shock of the 121st Championships was the performance of Anas Abu-Ganaba. He destroyed his 100m personal best, reducing it from 10.59 to a stunning 10.28, just outside the Commonwealth Games B qualifying standard of 10.28.
“To be honest I didn’t expect to run that fast, I thought I can run low 10.5s or high 10.4s but to run 10.28 was a massive shock to me,” Abu-Ganaba said. “I was in state of shock when the time came up, just collapsed in tears of joy. It was an unexpected run and the time was an unbelievable feeling. Now I know I can run that fast.”
In second was Isaac Ntimoah who at 35, was just 0.01 seconds outside his best with a time of 10.36.
The evening before, London world championships silver medallist, Dani Stevens, launched the discus out to 66.02m in her season opener. It is a distance that now is common place for Stevens, but it is still standard only a half-dozen or so can throw in the world. She looks on track to defend her Commonwealth title.
Australia’s finest men’s high hurdler for the last decade, Nick Hough ran 13.51w, the fourth fastest time of his career but was foiled by a slightly over the legal limit wind of 2.6m/s.
There were also CG B qualifier and impressive state title wins for Alex Hulley (hammer 63.46m), Angus Armstrong (pole vault 5.40m), James Nipperess (3000m steeple 8:41.74) and Victorian steeplechasers Charlotte Wilson (9:57.68) and Reilly Shaw (2nd, 8:44.31).
There was another CG B qualifier for para-athletics world championship medallist, Erin Cleaver in the T38 long jump with a leap of 4.26m. She placed second in the ambulant event to junior international Holly Saunders.
Full results: Click here.
In Ann Arbor in Michigan USA, London Olympic finalist, Steven Solomon launched his season with a quick indoor 600m running for his college team, Duke University. He clocked 1:17.49, the fifth fastest time in America this season. He also broke the track and his school record. It was his first race since the London 2017 World Championships last August.
Queensland Open State Championships
Rain on the first two days, cleared for near perfect conditions on day three of the Queensland track and field championships.
Reigning world champion, Sally Pearson was impressive in the tricky conditions. Pearson ran 12.68 (-1.3) in the heats and then took out another state title in 12.67 (+2.7).
“I haven’t had to back up in a final since the world championships, so it was nice to have a bit of a practice before nationals,” Pearson said. “The heat time was obviously really good; the final time was okay. I felt I got out a bit stronger in the final, but I think I hit one of the hurdles towards the end and couldn’t keep the speed up. But I need a bit more race practice for the next few weeks.
“I’m definitely where I want to be at the moment.”
In his first hammer throw competition for eight months, Matt Denny was on song with his second longest mark of his career – 72.65m.
“You could technically say it was a PB at the weight I’m at, as last time I threw my PB I was at 130kg and now I’m 118kg,” Denny said. “We wanted to get faster and be more athletic. I’ve always been better when I can move faster.”
The rain during the hammer throw on Saturday and the discus on Friday night (which he won with a distance of 61.07m) didn’t trouble Denny with his new attitude and approach to variables that sport can present.
“You just have to rock up and throw in the conditions. I’ve been doing a lot of work on just going and competing and addressing the situation, looking past it and treating it like everything is perfect. Everybody has to deal with it and get used to these things, it is part of being an athlete.
“The fact I’m throwing that far in these conditions, there are many metres to come. I’m tempered with how it went, but I know there is a lot more there.”
Reigning national long jump Chris Mitrevski was rewarded for his effort to travel from Melbourne, with two Commonwealth Games B qualifiers in a series capped by a best of 7.84m.
“Coming into tonight I felt good. I was put off in the morning by the weather and was waiting for it to get better,” said Mitrevski. “I took about two or three jumps to get into it. Hopefully I can jump even bigger on a dry track on Gold Coast in two weeks’ time.”
After a thrilling week where she was part of Commonwealth Games Australia’s fashion show and reveal of the Gold Coast Games uniforms, it was back to the business of qualifying for selection for the Games for Para-athletics world championships medalist, Torita Blake. A 400m specialist, she is facing up to going down the distance ladder and winning selection in the T37/38 100m.
“I’ve been enjoying the challenge of it [a new event - ed]. Having a bit of fun and see if I can make it. If I don’t, I’ll get straight back into 400s, where I’ve been working on a new race plan and that has been going better than expected.”
At the Queensland Championships on Saturday night she won the ambulant 100m in 14.71, short of adding to her four CG B qualifiers, and later the 400m in 67.46.
But the dream remains to wear that green and gold uniform she wore briefly this week.
“It was really great to see the uniform first hand and what it is going to look like for the opening and closing ceremonies. It is comfortable, and I liked it. “
After a personal best of 11.52 last week in Canberra, Riley Day continued her winning form, claiming her first open Queensland title. In wet conditions, Day clocked a promising 11.62.
“I knew I had to run fast just for myself,” Day said. “I wasn’t concentrating on anyone else out there tonight. I went out to get my best times and some qualifiers for world juniors and Commonwealth Games.”
In the men’s blue riband event, Rio Olympian Alex Hartmann was pleased with his win in 10.49.
“It was pretty wet out here and a headwind, but it was close to a season’s best. Finally starting to run into a bit of shape. It is going well,” he said.
Another Rio Olympian, Caitlin Jones is also running back into form at the right time with her fastest time for nearly two years. Clocking 53.22 she won the 400m title ahead of an outstanding time of 54.47, by 15-year-old Ellie Beer. In the men’s 400m, Daniel Mowen defending his state title in 46.75, in a close win over Alex Beck with 46.95.
“Same as last week I had to dip. I think last week I over dipped and nearly fell over. But I was happy with it tonight, to be able to come out and do that in these cold conditions,” Mowen said.
London World Championships long jumper, Naa Anang took her first attempt at triple jump for a couple of years, hitting 12.30m to win the state title. Brother, Tetteh claimed the men’s title with his leap of 16.13m, the third longest of his career.
The championships had got off to a good start on Friday evening with a Commonwealth Games B qualifier in the high jump from Nik Bojic. Clearing 2.21m, he was not able to negotiate the next height of 2.25m. In second was teenager Oscar Miers, who cleared a personal best and his third Youth Olympic Games qualifier of 2.13m. He was celebrating on the same weekend his mum, Monique Miers, was remembering a milestone in her own running career, when she won gold in the 4x100m relay at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games in a relay which included Cathy Freeman on debut.
Full results: Click here.
Athletics South Australia State Championships
There was a surprise performance in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the SA Athletics Stadium. Moments after two athletes ran qualifiers in Sydney, Max Stevens joined the qualification party and went even quicker. In his second race of the summer he clocked his second personal best, slashing a total of 18 seconds from his best to run into Commonwealth Games selection contention. Stevens said he has surprised himself with his recent results.
“After Nationals last year where I finished 4th, Adam [coach, Adam Didyk] told me I should be looking at trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. I had a really good winter, with some solid results on the road and XC. I thought I would go close but certainly didn't think I would be going under 8:40!”
The theme of recent triple jump progression around the nation was on show in Adelaide. There was a massive personal best for local Dylan Johnson. Leaping out to 16.14m and adding 26cm to his previous best. He was just 11cm short of the Commonwealth Games B standard. Maybe he was inspired by the great men’s triple jumping in Canberra last week, where he placed third with a jump 15.73m. In the women’s state title, three athletes were over 13.10m for one of the deepest competitions in Australia for years. Victorian Tierra Exum led the competition with a slightly windy 13.20, ahead of local and reigning national champion, Meggan O’Riley 13.20m, with three-time Commonwealth Games representative, Ellen Pettit at 13.12m.
The Commonwealth’s leading pole vaulter, Kurtis Marschall cleared a comfortable 5.55m, to clinch the state title.
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games long jumper, Margaret Gayen won three titles as she builds up towards the trials. She won the 100m (11.86), 100m hurdles (14.26) and her primary event, the long jump with a 5.86m (-1.1).
There was great excitement when 18-year-old Sarah Eckels won the open 1500m title in a World Under-20 Championships qualifier of 4:17.08. She had just missed the mark at Zatopek in December running 4:21.60, outside the 4:21.40 standard. It capped a successful three weeks for Eckels who in mid-January recorded two 800m qualifiers with times of 2:05.24 an 2:06.21.
Claire Tallent showed she is on track ahead of the Australian 20km Race Walking Championships next Sunday in Adelaide. Tallent wrapped up her weekend with victory in the 10,000m on Sunday (48:08.76) following on from her win on Friday night in the 5,000m (22.40.19).
Full results: Click here.
Jessica Trengove finished fourth in the Marugame Half Marathon, crossing the line in a time of 70:59 - an 8sec PB and moving the South Australian into 10th fastest all-time Aussie female.
Chris Hamer finished 14th in the men’s race, in 62:29. Incredibly, Hamer slashed his previous best by 100sec.