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Jack-to-Jack as Pompeani Pounces | Australian 10,000m Championships

Published Thu 15 Dec 2022

The 62nd installment of Zatopek:10 belonged to Leanne Pompeani and Jack Rayner who carved their names into history as Australian 10,000m champions with dominant wins, complemented by rising star Amy Bunnage’s Australian Under 18 record. 

Canberra’s Leanne Pompeani (ACT, Des Proctor) has won her maiden Australian national title in emphatic fashion over 10,000m at Zatopek:10, with the finish line the only barrier stopping the 26-year-old from extending her margin over the slick field in a time of 32:20.35.

“This is my first open national title and it feels good to do that at Zatopek at a big event,” Pompeani said.

“It’s one I’ll remember.  I wasn’t planning on taking the lead that early but things just happen and it’s got to be someone so I thought why not give it a try.”

Pompeani’s victory was crafted off the back of an assertive move with 10 laps remaining, pouring on the pressure at the front with pre-race favourites Rose Davies (NSW, Scott Westcott) and Izzi Batt-Doyle (SA, Nic Bideau) in hot pursuit. The Olympic duo battled valiantly but could live up to Pompeani on the night, who roared to a major breakthrough on the track after a slow start.

“It’s definitely a lot of pressure (running with Davies). I know she’s been training so well, so I didn’t know what she would do tonight but it did feel like she was biding her time. She probably has more of a kick than me so I knew I just had to keep this pace honest,” she said.

“It is funny, there is always a point in the race that you want to pull out, and for me that was at six laps to go. Rose was there putting the pressure on, but the gap started to open up and I got a second wind. Once I saw the gap, I thought I have to take this now.

An Australian representative at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Pompeani has since been renowned for her road-running prowess – a misconception now re-written by her demolition job over 25 laps ahead of a host of international opportunities.

“This is the stepping stone. This was a priority but there is probably a slightly higher one at the (World Athletics Cross Country) trials so this is sort of, if I can run well here, keep doing what I’m doing in training, I should be ready to hit the ground hard at the trials and prove myself again that this wasn’t just a good night from me.

“I’m in much better shape and if i can make this team, I really want to go hard at Bathurst and go for top 20.”

Batt-Doyle rallied late for silver, with back-to-back champion Davies claiming bronze. 

Jack Rayner (VIC, Nic Bideau) made it back-to-back Australian 10,000m titles with a dominant display in the closing kilometres of the Men’s championships race, playing with the field before serving high-fives to the crowd in the home straight. 

“I always love Zatopek. I’ve missed out on a couple of years due to injuries but I think that was my seventh time doing it. I’ve grown up doing it since I was 18 or 19 but I’ve gotten better each year, some years not so good, but  it’s nice to get my stride going now,” Rayner said. 

Rayner and the field casually reeled in early race leader Jordan Gusman (Malta) who was bold in his bid for glory, but it soon became obvious that the man with the mustache was simply too classy for his competitors as he sailed to an uncontested victory. 

“I actually didn’t realise he made a move but I looked up and he was 50m in front. I thought, ah, I’ll let him go for a bit and make sure he doesn’t get too far in front, but it kept it a little bit interesting,” Rayner said. 

The win caps off a sublime year for the Australian record holder who has returned to the track from marathon duties, only just beginning to fulfill his potential after a breakthrough season. 

“It’s been my best year without a doubt. I’ve run PB’s and two Australian records. I’m over the moon and hopefully I can keep the ball rolling next year into World Cross Country and World Champs,” Rayner said.

I knew I had never reached my potential on the track but it didn’t always translate to racing.”\

Andre Waring (VIC, Steve Dineen) and Jack Bruce (QLD, Collis Birmingham) took home the minor medals with strong runs. 

Also on the timetable tonight was the ever prestigious Ondieki Women’s U20  and the De Castella Men’s U20 3000m events, showcasing the most talented junior distance athletes in the country.

Amy Bunnage (VIC, Tim O’Shaughnessy) impressed when setting a new Australian U18 record of 9:00.60, eclipsing renowned distance runner Eloise Wellings’ record from 1999 by nearly two seconds. 

Ahead of the pack as soon as the start gun went off, it was Bunnage who stood out through the race as she slowly surged over seven and a half laps to create a sizeable gap, big enough to defeat second-place getter Gabrielle Schmidt by close to 24 seconds.  The 17-year-old is enjoying a celebratory week, after being announced as one of Victoria’s top performers in the VCE.

Australian mile champion 16-year-old Cameron Myers (ACT, Lee Bobbin) continued his upward trajectory on the track, taking out the men’s event in 8:05.82 defeating World Under 20 Championships representative Archie Noakes (VIC, Charlotte Wilson) by nearly three seconds (8:05.82) and South Australian Cael Mulholland (SA, Michael Nitschke).

It was a tussle to the finish line in the Men’s 1500m for a trio of Victorians, but Jack Lunn (VIC, Steve Fabris) came out victorious, stopping the clock in 3:44.94 ahead of William Lewis (VIC, Steve Fabris) in 3:45.72 and closely followed by Samuel Clifford (TAS, Gary Armstrong). Jaylah Hancock-Cameron (NSW, Andae Kalemusic) crossed the line first in the Women’s 1500m in 4:14.19. 

Full results from the 2022 edition of Zatopek:10 can be found HERE.

By Lachlan Moorhouse and Sascha Ryner, Athletics Australia
Posted: 15/12/2022