It has been a huge morning for Mathew Denny (QLD, Australia Gold) at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, with the 17-year-old throwing a massive personal best of 79.26m in the boy’s hammer throw to improve on the Australian record he set just last month at the Australian All-Schools Championships.
His performance, which requires official ratification by Athletics Australia, was one of five meet records by Australians in this morning’s session at the Sydney Olympic Park and also etches a sixth qualifier next to his name for the IAAF World Youth Championships, to be held in Donetsk (UKR) later this year.
Competing for Australia Gold, Denny opened his six-throw account with a perhaps nervous foul, before two impressive throws of 75.48m and 79.26m and three further fouls to close out his series. Matt Bloxham (NZL, second, 71.79m) and Australia Green competitor Costa Kousparis (NSW, Australia Green, 64.98m) joined Denny on the medal podium.
Thrilled by his result and confident in the knowledge that his hard work at training continues to pay off, Denny now looks forward to the discus throw this afternoon and the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Perth (WA) in eight weeks time.
Denny said: “That’s a massive personal best, it’s 4 metres on my old best mark and that’s great. I was so happy with the technique behind it and to know that I can throw that far gives me such a boost.
“The World Youths are my big goal this year and the confidence today gives me to do well there is phenomenal, it means that I will mix it with the best if I am selected to compete and you can’t complain about going into an event as someone that is in contention.
“The team environment here has been amazing. It’s so great to compete against athletes from around the world and understand what could happen at an international competition. Staying with all the Australians has been fantastic too, the AOC have really looked after us, and the staff from Athletics Australia that have been team coaches have been supportive as well.”
Also impressive in the thrower’s circle was Yasenaca Denicaucau (NSW, Australia Green), who threw a personal best of 15.76m to record a fourth IAAF World Youth Championships qualifier.
Building to her best throw in the final round of competition, Denicaucau enjoyed a flawless series of 14.09m, 15.48m, 14.16m, 14.47m and 14.85m before her magic mark to close. Her closest rival was Paletina Lemi (NSW, Australia Gold), who won a silver medal with a 14.69m hurl, while Mauga Feagaiga-Fagasa (NZL, 13.95m) won bronze.
Competing in the girl’s pole vault, it was Nina Kennedy (WA, Australia Gold) and Emma Phillippe (WA, Australia Green) who battled it out for the top of the podium. Both equalling their personal bests today, it was Kennedy who came out on top with a 4.10m clearance to win gold, while Phillippe made light work of 4.00m to take home the silver medal.
Kennedy said: “With Emma in the competition it felt a little bit like training because we are in the same squad, it was really good out there.
“The Youth Olympic Festival experience has been so much fun. The team has bonded really well and it has been awesome to meet so many other athletes from Australia and around the world.
“It’s a great motivator for the World Youth Championships, this is sort of the beginning of what could be a really fantastic year.”
Meanwhile on track, it was Molly Blakey (NSW, Australia Gold) who stole the show thanks to a blistering victory in the girl’s 400m, while Hugh Nicklason (Tas, Australia Gold) ran a meet record to win the boy’s 1500m.
Almost stumbling across the line from exhaustion, Blakey gave it her all in the blustery conditions to clock 54.69 and win gold. A new personal best and meet record, the performance delivers the 17-year-old a fourth qualifier for the IAAF World Youth Championships, with victory at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships now required to ensure her automatic selection for the Australian team.
Blakey backed up her 400m win by anchoring the Australia Gold team to victory in the girl’s 4x100m relay in a meet record time of 47.10.
Blakey said: “It’s a pretty big PB so that run was as perfect as I could have hoped. I really struggled to the line there but I knew I had to just keep pushing until I crossed.
“These last few days have been such an awesome thing to be involved with. We are so lucky to not come together as a state team, but instead represent Australia and compete against athletes from across the world.
“I now understand that when it comes to race day all bets are off. It’s about doing what you can to stay in front of your nearest competitor and making sure you do everything you can to get the result you want.”
Nicklason battled it out with fellow Australian Jonas Aranda (NSW, Australia Green, silver, 3:55.26) for much of the boy’s metric mile, before striding away on the home straight to cross in a time of 3:54.11.
Nicklason’s performance improves the previous meet record of Ryan Gregson (NSW), with Gregson now the Australian 1500m record holder after a stunning 3:31.06 at the Monaco instalment of the Samsung Diamond League in 2010.
In other highlights:
- Aliyah Johnson (Qld, Australia Green) won a gold medal in the girl’s 100m hurdles, with her time of 13.89 just outside the personal best she set in the event last weekend.
- Henry Smith (Vic, Australia Gold) soared 2.06m in the boy’s high jump to win gold from Italo Hans De Almeida (BRA, 2.03m).
- Anas Abu-Ganaba (NSW, Australia Green) and Jesse Usoalii (Tas, Australia Gold) ensured an Australian one-two in the boy’s 100m. Abu-Ganaba crossed in 10.88, with Usoalii finishing in 11.07.
Competition continues at Sydney Olympic Park later today, with the girl's hammer throw the first event on the timetable. Looking to deliver Australian success will be Alex Hulley (NSW, Australia Gold), who is the national under 16 record holder and currently ranked 2nd in her event internationally.
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.
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