Benn Harradine (Qld) has announced his return competitive athletics in unbelievable fashion tonight by smashing his own Oceania and Australian record in the men’s discus throw.
Hurling 68.20m in Townsville (Qld) to also record his first A-Qualifier for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow (RUS) this August, Harradine’s performance sees the Commonwealth champion eclipse his own national record for an astounding fourth time.
Harradine bettered the 65.62m mark of Warner Reiterer to take the mantle for the first time in July 2010, before improving his own personal best and as a consequence the national record at the Continental Cup (66.45m) in September that same year and in Townsville (67.53m) ahead of London 2012 last year.
He is a four-time national champion, twice a representative at the IAAF World Championships and a finalist in the men’s discus from the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Battling a back problem and in his competing for the first time since having surgery following the Olympic Games, Harradine had hoped to achieve the IAAF World Championships B-Qualifier coming into the thrower’s circle this evening.
“It was a good night,” Harradine said in a massive understatement.
“It was a horrible series. When I haven’t been in the circle for very long I am rarely consistent so that was expected but one of the officials in the warm up said that I had been throwing pretty big. He said if I could reproduce what I had done then I would be fine for the B-Qualifier because that is what I was honestly hoping to get out of this.
“My first round I think went about 60.90 metres, and then I improved to about 63 metres. I spoke to my coach, who is my Dad, on the fence ahead of my third attempt because I have been having some problems with a nerve in my lower back and thought it was too risky to push it by trying to generate as much power as I can. He said to have one crack because the conditions were great and we couldn't have asked for a better result.
“I honestly nearly started to cry when the read out 68 metres. It was such a massive shock. It goes to show that I have a really good base behind me, and that from here it is just about finding consistency and hopefully improving further.
Scheduled to compete at the Shanghai (CHN) instalment of the IAAF Diamond League next weekend, Harradine will assess his back in the coming days before making a decision with his firm focus now being on preparation for the IAAF World Championships.
“I’m umming and aahing about Shanghai. I am supposed to throw there, but want to see how my back pulls up and make sure that I get the problem sorted out. If I can come back from this quickly I will look to get another good block of strength training in and just focus on Moscow and not rushing into competitions before hand,” Harradine added.
“I’m not on the team for Moscow yet but hopefully this will be enough to see me selected. We’re a force to be reckoned with. Julian (Wruck) did fantastically well at Nationals throwing a huge bomb of 66 metres. He’s super consistent and really improving a lot. It will be nice to have two or three of us heading over there in good shape and finishing in finals up there with the big boys.”
The astonishing achievement of Harradine launched a big night of athletics for Australia, with Josh Ross (Vic) and Tristan Thomas (Tas) also taking to the field of play at Round 1 of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha (QAT).
Battling hot and humid conditions, Ross was the first Australian on track and his run in the men’s 100m B-Race was impressive.
Arriving at the event as the newly crowned Australian 100m and 200m champion, Ross, who has been selected to compete in the men’s 200m at the IAAF World Championships, surged from the blocks to clock a wind assisted season best 10.20 (w: +2.5) and place 4th overall behind Rakleem Salaam (USA, first, 10.06).
Thomas, meanwhile, arrived in Qatar after clocking a season best of 49.56 in the men’s 400m hurdles at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Tokyo (JPN) last weekend.
Coming out of lane two, Thomas ran a clean race and avoided a falling Justin Gaymon (USA) on his outside to cleanly soar over the final hurdle and cross 4th in 49.82. The event was won by Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley (USA) in 48.92.
Attention now shifts to Round 3 of the Asian Grand Prix in Colombo (SRI), with Sally Pearson (Qld), Melissa Breen (ACT), Monica Brennan (Vic) and Ashleigh Whittaker (Vic) set to once again combine for the women’s 4x100m relay as they push for a qualifying mark for the IAAF World Championships. A second team comprising Angela Byrt (Vic), Hana Basic (Vic), Kendra Hubbard (Vic) and Margaret Gayen (SA) will also challenge for the qualifier.
The IAAF Diamond League now moves to Shanghai next Saturday 18 May. Olympic silver medallist Mitchell Watt (Qld) will fly the Australian flag in the men’s long jump.
For more information on the IAAF Diamond League, including results and entry lists for future meets, please click here.
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