Constant heavy rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm by members of the Australian Commonwealth Games team to shine at the Summer of Aths meet in Brisbane last evening. The Athletics Australia meet hosted an impressive line-up of internationals from Commonwealth countries and Japan.
The four-year Gold Coast Gold Relay program, looks excitingly well on track for success at the Games next month. The new men’s 4x100m combination of Trae Williams, Rohan Browning, Alex Hartmann and Josh Clarke had little trouble accounting for a Canadian team which included sub-10 sprinter Aaron Brown and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Gavin Smellie. Australia clocked a time of 39.29 to defeat Canada (39.64).
“It was the first relay together as a squad, so we were just trying to get the baton around in this race safe and we came up with a win and a pretty good time,” said lead leg runner Trae Williams. “We have big expectation for the Games and definitely can medal. A few boys are still to peak, and we will work on a few changes.”
Third leg runner Alex Hartmann was just as positive.
“We have had one practise session so to get the baton around was fantastic and a good sign and we have a couple of weeks until the Comm Games relay so we can definitely tighten things up a bit more and make exchanges a bit more crisp but I think we are all moving really well and come Comm Games I think we have a genuine chance of being medal contenders.”
Mastermind behind the program has been head relay coach Adam Larcom.
“It was probably a little faster than what I thought (they would run) to be honest, because two things that may not be our end team and from an exchange point of view we only have had one session and it is wet tonight,” said coach Larcom.
“We ran 39.2 in the Bahamas after two weeks training, so potentially there is a really fast time.
“I think we have built a really good culture. It is more about that the relay is super important and not just the individual event and we keep it really open so the coaches are aware of what is going on. I think the four by one men are a really tight group and it has taken four years to get to that point, so there is a lot of work behind that race.
“I’m pretty confident on where we are going to go. I’ve never had this artillery before so for me it is pretty good. Technically the exchanges are efficient, but to have that speed is crazy.”
Australia’s quickest man Trae Williams got the team off to a terrific start, but will also compete in the 100m at the Games and he has been aiming to run even quicker than his 10.10 at the Australian Championships.
“I’ll be trying to repeat what I did in the weeks leading up to nationals. Working more on the backend of my race and trying to get that right. Hopefully everything comes together like the nationals.”
Hartmann also lines up in an individual event at the Games. He had a hit out over 200m last night, placing fifth in 21.51.
“A wet track is never favourable, and the blocks seems to slip a bit as I came out, which was disappointing to stop, and stand right up, but then I chased hard. But other than that start everything seem to go pretty well. I fought hard and tried to stay relaxed and mixed it up with the big boys.”
Matt Denny hammer throw 74.77m PB
Individually, Matthew Denny’s hammer throw of 74.57m was the standout performance on the night. He added 1.4 metres to his personal best and elevated himself from seventh to number four Australian all-time. It was also the longest throw by an Australian for 12-year.
Initially the conditions were dry for the event.
“From rounds four, five and six the rain was hammering down and the ring filled with water,” Denny said. “That is why on round four I pull-out as my foot completely slipped.”
But in the earlier attempts he had spun the hammer out to a personal record distance. More importantly, he pushed one of his main Commonwealth Games podium contenders Chris Bennett of England who ranked second in the Commonwealth in 2017. Bennett hit 75.11m, to just hold off Denny by 34 centimetres.
Denny felt he could have passed Bennett by the end of the competition but both withdrew in the risky conditions after their fourth attempts.
“I really wanted to get over 75m and go further than that which I felt I could have done, but I’m not worried about that. I’d rather get the win in Commonwealths rather than the win here, and risk injury. There is a lot more there. I don’t want to start putting distances out there but we know there is more. That is a reassuring thing. I’m throwing well in training and slow putting things together under pressure. Sky’s the limit, I’m only 21 and I’m in unexplored territory. “
The performance continued a break-through summer where he has been highly motivated by the local Games.
“It has been a good season. This is just the third comp for the summer and to get a PB quite easily is pretty awesome. Nationals were not what we wanted. We wanted ‘that’ at nationals and further. But that is the way it goes and it has been a great preparation and I have had some amazing people around me and it is paying dividends. I made the decision to move here (from Allora to Brisbane) and put some more things around me because you rarely get a chance of a home Games.”
Other highlights on the evening
- Japan’s 10.00 sprinter Ryota Yamagata ran a quick 10.15 into a 1.7m/s wind.
- Brianna Beahan (WA) was a comfortable winner of the 100m hurdles in 13.42, ahead of Commonwealth Games team mate Michelle Jenneke (NSW, 13.70)
- The Australian women’s relay team of Beahan, Maddie Coates (VIC), Riley Day (QLD) and Melissa Breen (ACT) clocked 44.90.
- Coates earlier ran a 100m PB of 11.58, defeating Japanese 100m record holder Chisato Fukushima.
- Georgia Griffith (VIC), in just her second 1500m of the summer, ran a solo 1500m to clock 4:11.97.
- England’s world championships 200m finalist Dina Asher-Smith continued her strong build-up to the Games winning the 200m in 22.90. Last Saturday night, directly off a plane from Europe, she had won the Sydney Track Classic 100m.
- Discus thrower, Dani Stevens (NSW) was untroubled winning her last competition before the Games with a throw of 64.02m.
- Commonwealth Games team member Josh Ralph (NSW) won the 800m in a brisk 1:47.53, defeating a field which included Rio Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz (USA).
- Queenslander Patrick Tiernan, who is determined to perform well at the Games in front of a home crowd, warmed up for his Games 10,000m with an untroubled win over 5000m in 13:40.98.
- Off a limited preparation, Henry Frayne (QLD) battled the weather to make a positive return to the sand pit, leaping 7.77m in the long jump.
- Perth-based physio, Ian Dewhurst (WA) was provided ideal competition from England’s sub-49 400m hurdler, Jack Green, clocking 50.52 finishing just behind Green’s 50.24.
Image: Canada’s Aaron Brown and Josh Clarke competing in the 4x100m relay at the Summer of Aths meet in Brisbane. (image courtesy David Tarbotton)
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