Anas Abu-Ganaba (NSW, Australia Green) and Hugh Nicklason (Tas, Australia Gold) have delivered impressive back-to-back gold medal winning performances at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, after taking victory in the boy’s 200m and 800m respectively this afternoon.
Abu-Ganaba, who entered competition after clearance from the physiotherapist for a groin injury, burst out of the blocks from lane eight to challenge for the lead coming into the straight.
Charging away from Jacob Matson (NZL, second, 22.49) and Xucheng Zhang (CHN, third, 22.57) across the closing stages, he crossed the line in a quick 21.89 (w: -1.9), just 0.1 outside his personal best. His victory adds to the 100m crown he won this morning in a time of 10.89.
Abu-Ganaba said: “That was really good. My coach and I wanted it to be a little bit quicker but the headwind on the straight was really strong and that made it tough.
“I don’t really know what I am capable of this summer. I want to keep improving and I hope that means my results continue to get better as well.”
Nicklason, who improved the meet record of Ryan Gregson (NSW) to win gold in the boy’s 1500m this morning, was the man to beat coming into the 800m this afternoon.
Strong from the outset, the 17-year-old sat together with Jonas Aranda (NSW, Australia Green) for much of the race. He narrowly edged ahead in the dying stages to win in a time of 1:52.64, which is just 0.2 outside his career best mark. Aranda settled for second in 1:52.73, while Michael Dawson (NZL, 1:54.45) won bronze.
Equally strong on the track were Georgia Wassall (NSW, Australia Gold) and Bryce Collins (NSW, Australia Gold), with the Sydney-based duo delivering stunning solo performances to win gold medals convincingly.
Sitting together with the field for most of the first lap, Wassall broke away in the girl’s 800m with just over 400 metres to go and never looked back. Striding confidently down the back straight, Wassall lifted the tempo off the home bend to cross in a meet record time of 2:08.68.
Wassall already lays claim to one IAAF World Youth Championships qualifier, and with the Australian Junior Athletics Championships now just eight weeks away she is happy with her progress.
Wassall said: “My coach and I said before the start of the race that I needed to break away where I did. We both knew that I have done the work and that I am in good enough shape to push for a lap on my own and it was great that this confidence paid off.
“I ran a new personal best a couple of weeks ago when I was on the shoulder of a girl in front of me, and today I have won when I was out in front on my own. That tells me that I can perform well in both conditions and that’s great news.
“These past few days have just been so much fun. I can’t thank everyone involved enough for the work they have done, and I should thank my coach and family too for helping me actually make this team in the first place.”
Competing in the boy’s 400m hurdles, Collins ran hard from the outset to break away from silver medallist Matthew De Bruin (Vic, Australia Green) on the back straight. Beginning to slow as he cleared the final two hurdles, Collins soldiered on to take victory and win gold in a time of 53.19.
Collins’ performance improves his personal best by 0.13 seconds and sees the 17-year-old improve on the silver medal he won at the Australian All-Schools Championships in December.
Launching the field with a bang was Alex Hulley (NSW, Australia Gold) in the girl’s hammer throw.
Hurling a best mark of 62.04m in the fifth round to record her first IAAF World Youth Championships qualifier, Hulley’s series also included a 59.39m throw to open, before 60.39m, 54.69m and two fouls.
Hulley is the Australian under 16 hammer throw record holder, and she was today joined on the podium by visiting international starters Jin Mu (CHN, second, 56.48m) and Lauren Bruce (NZL, third, 51.83m).
Aliyah Johnson (Qld, Australia Green), who trains with Olympic and world championship silver medallist Mitchell Watt (Qld) in Brisbane, joined Hulley on the qualifiers list for the IAAF World Youth Championships after winning the girl’s long jump.
Fouling in the first round, Johnson backed up with her winning mark of 6.02m in round two. Returning to the runway for 5.99m, the Australian All-Schools gold medallist closed out her series with 5.99m, 5.98m and 5.91m.
Johnson is a developing heptathlete and her long jump qualifier now sits alongside a World Youth Championships eligible performance in the girl’s 100m hurdles and the seven-event heptathlon.
In other highlights:
- Up and coming race walker Nathan Brill (Vic, Australia Gold) walked an impressive 20:08.02 to win gold in the boy’s under 18 5000m walk. His performance was a massive 40-second improvement on his previous personal best.
- Mathew Denny (Qld, Australia Gold) won a second gold medal in the boy’s discus throw, with his best mark of 64.46m an IAAF World Youth Championships qualifier.
- Nicola McDermott and Hannah Joy both cleared the magic mark of 1.80m in the girl’s high jump to record their first qualifiers for the IAAF World Youth Championships.
- Yasenaca Denicaucau (NSW, Australia Green) won a gold medal in the girl’s discus throw, with her performance of 46.58m an IAAF World Youth Championships qualifier.
For more information on the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, including comprehensive coverage of the track and field action, please visit the AYOF2013 website of the Australian Olympic Committee by clicking here.
You can also join the conversation on Twitter by hashtagging #AYOF2013 and following @AthsAust and @AYOF2013.
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