Kurtis Marschall (SA) is now among the best vaulters in the world after placing 7th in the men’s pole vault final at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London (GBR).
Determined to not simply be an athlete who made up the numbers, Marschall’s strong performance sees him become the first Team Australia charge since Steve Hooker in 2009 to be placed in the top-eight and, having beaten Shawn Barber (CAN), the best performing athlete in the Commonwealth as Gold Coast 2018 fast approaches.
“That was an incredible experience, I absolutely loved every minute of being out there. I wanted to squeeze out a 5.75m and get a PB, and I think I gave it a good crack. To be mixing it with the best guys in the world is absolutely awesome. I loved the crowd, being out there with the boys, I felt like I belonged out there,” Marschall said.
“It’s a good rivalry between Shawn and me. I had a chat with him out there and I asked if he is coming to the Commonwealth Games. He said, ‘of course, mate,’ so it is going to be a good rivalry there. Hopefully I can come over the top of him next time, too.”
Entering the competition at 5.45m and missing his first attempt, Marschall then sailed over the opening height with his second jump. He made light work of 5.65m but could not prevail at 5.75m, with the latter mark two centimetres higher than his current personal best. The gold medal was won by Sam Kendricks (USA) with a leap of 5.95m.
In the women’s javelin final, a disappointed Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) had to settle for 10th after a best throw of 60.76m in the first round. The gold medal was won by Barbora Spotakova (CZE) with a throw of 66.76m.
Unable to capture the form she delivered in the qualifying round, she takes confidence out of making her maiden championship final but is frustrated that she could not convert that outcome to something better today.
“I’m happy to make the final, that’s a plus, but to not make the top-eight is very disappointing. It’s not the result I was looking for. I’ve left some numbers that should have been on the board out there tonight,” Roberts said.
Roberts will compete at the IAAF Diamond League Final in two weeks’ time before shifting her attention to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. It’s there that she wants to improve on her bronze from Glasgow 2014.
“I want to go better than Glasgow. I want to win gold. I’ll take away some confidences from this season and build from there. There are bigger and better things to come,” Roberts added.
On track, Riley Day (Qld) embraced her opportunity to compete alongside the world’s best in the heats of the women’s 200m, stopping the clock at 23.77 (w: +0.5).
Despite not progressing to the semi-final, the 17-year-old becomes the youngest ever sprinter to compete for Team Australia in an individual event at the IAAF World Championships only weeks after winning three medals, including two gold, at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
“The time wasn’t fantastic but I don’t care. My main competition this year was the Commonwealth Youth Games and this has just been an amazing experience. I’m just so honoured to be able run here as a 17-year-old,” Day said.
“I looked at my start list and was like, ‘yeah not too bad’, then I looked again and realised that Dafne (Schippers) was next to me. I was like, ‘oh Ella (Connolly), have a look at this.’ I got to run against one of the fastest women in the world. That’s awesome.
“This has been so much different to juniors. A completely different atmosphere, there’s 60,000 people in the stadium. Before the race I embraced it, but during the race I didn’t hear a thing. I just block it out when the adrenalin rushes.”
Ella Nelson (NSW) joined Day in the heats of the women’s 200m, clocking 24.02 to place 7th. She will not progress to the semi-final.
Team Australia will be represented by seven athletes on Day 6 of the IAAF World Championships tomorrow, with entry lists confirming the start of, among others, national record holder Brooke Stratton (Vic) in the qualifying round of the women’s long jump, Rio 2016 finalist Genevieve LaCaze (Vic) in the heats of the women’s 3000m steeplechase and Patrick Tiernan (Qld) in the heats of the men’s 5000m.