Victoria has taken out the annual Australia
Cup meet in hot and blustery conditions at the Australian Institute
of Sport to launch the five-meet Australian Athletics Tour for
Sixteen members of Australia’s 2009 world championships team hit the track for the first meet of the season, which saw two Commonwealth Games A-qualifiers posted on an action-packed afternoon.
In the long jump pit Berlin bronze medallist
Mitchell Watt (Qld) commenced his 2010 campaign in
style with his sixth Commonwealth Games A-qualifying performance
and first for the new year.
Watt leapt 8.13m (w: 1.4) on his second attempt to take out the long jump title in emphatic fashion ahead of training partner Chris Noffke (Qld, 7.75m (w: 0.5)).
“It feels like it’s been a long time, I’ve been training well but you can’t really replicate a competition environment in training that well so the only way I’m going to jump further is just to keep competing,” Watt said.
Widely tipped to break Jai Taurima’s national record of 8.49m in 2010, Watt said achieving the record mark was not his major focus.
“I’m not the only one out there who could break it, Fabrice (Lapierre) could come close but if the conditions are good and I’ve got a few comps under my belt then who knows what could happen,” he said.
“(The record’s) not really my focus at the moment, I’ve got a long season and obviously I want to jump a lot further and if the record comes it comes.”
While it was the Victorians who took out the
state-versus-state competition it was
in-form Western Australian representative Ben Offereins who stole the show, posting a new personal best, meet record and Commonwealth Games A-qualifying time in the men’s 400m.
Offereins crossed the line in 45.32 to
eclipse the previous meet record of 45.87 set by Sean
Wroe in 2001 and stake his claim for Commonwealth Games
Running in lane seven Offereins stormed down the back straight and never looked back, holding off a late charge by Clay Watkins (SA) in a Commonwealth Games B-qualifier and personal best time of 45.92 and New South Wales athlete Joel Milburn (46.63) to take out the win.
Since bursting onto the scene as a member of
the bronze medal-winning 4x400m relay team at the Berlin world
championships in August Offereins has cemented himself as a force
to be reckoned with on the national athletics circuit.
“There was a lot of competition out there today which was good,” Offereins said.
“It makes you run scared, usually I don’t have anyone keeping up behind me but I had Joel (Milburn) and Clay (Watkins) and all those sort of guys right on my bum so it helps bring that extra bit out and it’s always good running with those sort of guys.”
Offereins said he took confidence in his ability to match it with the country’s top runners from today’s race, his sights already set on cracking the elusive 45-second barrier.
“Everyone wants to crack 45 (seconds), everyone wants to be a 44-second runner. Joel’s lucky enough to be there and hopefully I can join him pretty soon.”
The winning Victorian team’s charge was led by Bola Lawal in the men’s 100m and track stalwart Tamsyn Lewis in the women’s 400m.
Lawal clocked 10.46 (w: -1.8) to take victory in the blue-riband sprint ahead of Carl Van der Speck (NZL, 10.74) and national record-holder Patrick Johnson (Qld, 10.76).
Lawal, a native Nigerian who was granted permanent Australian residency in 2009, said his sights were now set on lining up for the green and gold.
In the showdown between the four members of the women’s 4x400m world championships relay team it was track stalwart Tamsyn Lewis (Vic) who took line honours , the 15-time national champion stopping the clock at 52.41 to edge out Jody Henry (WA, 52.44) in the dying metres of the race. Fellow Flame athletes Pirrenee Steinert (NSW, 52.81) and Caitlin Pincott (Qld, 53.43) crossed the line in third and fourth places respectively, the podium finishers all hitting the B-qualifying mark.
In other highlights:
- Dual Olympic medallist Jared Tallent(AIS) enjoyed a solid early-season hit-out ahead of the national race walking championships and Commonwealth Games selection trials in Hobart next month, clocking 19:08.81 in the 5000m walk ahead of AIS training partner Adam Rutter in 19:52.10. In the women’s field it was Claire Tallent (AIS) leading the charge with 22:22.58 ahead of Jillian Hosking (ACT) in 22:35.15.
- Target 2010 athlete Jacinta Boyd (Qld) posted a B-qualifier in the women’s long jump with 6.44m (w: 1.5).
- Lauren Boden (ACT) stormed home in the women’s 400m hurdles to post her second B-qualifier, stopping the clock at 56.48.
- Jump Start to London representative Laura Whaler edged out ACT local Melissa Breen in a photo finish in the women’s 100m. Whaler clocked 11.71 (w:-2.6), just ahead of Breen in 11.74.
- Louise Ellery (ACT) posted a world record in the seated shot put event, becoming the first woman in the F32 classification to eclipse the six metre-mark with her heave of 6.09m.
The Australian Athletics Tour now moves north for the Brisbane Athletics Classic next Saturday, February 6, where world championships golden girl Dani Samuels will return to action alongside a host of the nation’s top track and field athletes in the race for Commonwealth Games glory.
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