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WEEKEND REVIEW | Records Fall and Young Guns Stand Tall

Published Mon 15 Feb 2021

The age-old adage goes that ‘when it rains, it pours’ - and it’s currently pouring on the Australian athletics scene in the form of national records, Olympic and World U20 qualifiers. 

Australia’s own Charlie Hunter (Ben Thomas) continued to assert himself with in the world of middle distance running at the Tyson Invitational - lowering his Australian indoor mile record that he had set just two weeks earlier down to 3:53.49. Hunter finished in third place behind his Oregon teammates, with his time the sixth fastest in NCAA history. 

Having shown a glimpse of his potential in the 800m when splitting 1:47.65 in the Distance Medley Relay last month, Hunter returned just one day after his swift mile record to clock his second Australian indoor record in as many days - a blistering 1:45.59 over 800m, securing him the fifth fastest time in NCAA history and bettering Joseph Deng’s mark by 1.68 seconds. 

Fellow USA-based Australian Oliver Hoare (Dathan Ritzenhein) joined in on the indoor action at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Hoare decimated Stewart McSweyn’s Australian indoor record of 3:35.10 when running 3:32.35 - defeating a stacked field in the process. The time is well under the Olympic A standard of 3:35.0 and sets up an intriguing battle for selection in the Men’s 1500m at Tokyo. 

Also at the New Balance Grand Prix was Morgan McDonald (Joe Bosshard) who followed suit for the weekend, clocking the fourth Australian indoor record with an 8:14.92 performance for two miles. McDonald finished in third place in the star-studded field and is a firm indicator that the Australian is well on track ahead of Tokyo - where his goal is to finish in the top five of the 5000m. 

Rounding out the American action was Patrick Tiernan (Mark Rowland), flexing his versatility when winning the mile event at the Husky Invitational in Seattle - stopping the clock in 3:56.82. 

On domestic soil at the ACT State Championships it was Paralympian Vanessa Low (Iryna Dvoskina) who stole the show when lowering her own T61 long jump world record with a leap of 5.09m. It leaves the two-time Paralympic medalist optimistic ahead of Tokyo.  Sarah Walsh (T64, Matt Beckenham) placed second in the event, jumping 5.28m.

“I’m really pleased with it, there are still a lot of things I didn’t execute well, so I know there are improvements, so it is really exciting for the year ahead,” Low said to David Tarbotton for Athletics ACT.  

The women’s 100m hurdles saw Australia’s best come together, thanks to the support of Athletics International who supported key athletes to attend the Championships. Liz Clay (Sharon Hannan) shaved off another fraction of her best in the 100m Hurdles, charging her way to 12.72 (+1.3) and her second Olympic qualifier in the space of one week. The time cements Clay’s status as the second fastest woman in the event in Australian history behind only Sally Pearson - who was also coached by Hannan.

Celeste Mucci (Darren Clark) broke 13-seconds for the first time in her career when clocking 12.98 in the same event - moving her way to fifth on the Australian all-time list and bolstering the 21-year-old’s confidence after a period of troublesome injuries.  Mucci also set a new best of 11.47 (+1.8) in the Women’s 100m. 

The highly anticipated Men’s 100m was taken out by Rohan Browning (Andrew Murphy) who stormed away from his rivals to win in a time of 10.23 (+0.4). Behind Browning was Jack Hale (Adam Larcom), who despite not having his best day still managed to run 10.44. Jake Penny was third in 10.49. 

Back in action this week in the 100m was also Paralympic bronze medallist Chad Perris (T13, Iryna Dvoskina) who ran 10.95, while his training partner James Turner ran 52.30 in the 400m, just shy of his 51.71 world record.

In the Women’s 100m it was Bree Masters (Ryan Hoffman) who proved too classy, winning in a personal best time of 11.57 (-0.3). 20-year-old Monique Quirk (Greg Smith) was valiant in second place when running 11.64, and Ebony Lane clocked 11.71 to round out the podium after an 11.48 personal best in the heats. 

It was a battle of the national record holders in the Women’s 800m, with Australian junior record holder Keely Small (Philo Saunders) coming up against the open-aged record holder Catriona Bisset (Peter Fortune). It was the 19-year-old Small who managed to run 2:01.98 to narrowly edge out Bisset (2:02.16) for the win in one of the most exciting finishes of the night. 

“I felt really strong on the first lap and didn’t feel I was fading until about 150m to go where I was starting to really hurt and had to really dig deep. It has been ages since I have run an eight. I’m really happy with the time especially this early in the season,” Small said to Tarbotton. 

A few seconds behind the accomplished leaders was a flurry of World Junior Qualifiers - with Gigi Maccagnini (Peter Fortune) the first with 2:05.10, followed by Matilda Ryan in 2:05.60 and Jaylah Hancock-Cameron in 2:06.62. 

Athletes meeting world junior qualifying standards was also a prominent feature of the Men’s 800m - with 18-year-old Tom Palfrey winning the event in 1:48.26 ahead of 16-year-old Charlie Jefferson in 1:49.07. Palfrey backed up the performance in the 1500m the next day, securing his second qualifier with a blistering 3:45.70. 

Fresh off his world record at Zatopek:10, Jaryd Clifford (T12, Philo Saunders) also competed in the 1500m, clocking 3:48.22, while Deon Kenzie (T38, Philo Saunders) finished in a time of 4:01.42.

The Women’s 1500m saw Imogen Gardiner and Imogen Stewart join in on the World U20 Qualifiers - with the pair clocking 4:20.50 and 4:20.54 respectively. A tight finish saw Gardiner prevail narrowly to defeat Stewart and the classy field. 

Desleigh Owusu and Aiden Hinson completed the double when it came to World U20 qualifiers in the triple jump, with Owusu leaping her way to 13.08m and the 17-year-old Hinson securing a new personal best of 15.86m. The Men’s Triple Jump was taken out by 19-year-old Connor Murphy with an impressive 16.15m - his first jump over 16m. 

Flamboyant figure Tayleb Lewis also locked away his first ever World U20 qualifier - a scorching 13.73 over the 110m Hurdles (+0.4). 

Brooke Stratton (Russell Stratton) took out the Women’s Long Jump when launching herself 6.72m - her best performance in close to two years and eclipsing her Doha form. 

Firm favourites Bendere Oboya (John Quinn) and Alex Beck (Mark Ladbrook) took out convincing wins in the 400m events - registering times of 52.20 and 45.92 respectively. 

In the wheelchair racing events, Sam Carter (Fred Periac) took out the 100m wheelchair event in a time of 14.38, also winning the 400m in 48.31 and the 1500m when clocking 3:12.42 to complete a trio of victories. The T54 Paralympian had to settle for second place in the 800m - finishing behind Jake Lappin (Fred Periac).

Lappin won the event narrowly with a classy performance, also finishing in second place in both the 400m and 1500m events where he competed strongly. 

Sam McIntosh (Fred Periac) pushed his way to 17.41 in the 100m event - a time that is a solid foundation for his 2021 campaign. 

Madison de Rozario (Louise Sauvage) proved far too strong when clocking 1:55.01 in the 800m wheelchair event to win in emphatic fashion, complimented by her 3:36.98 performance in the 1500m. 

Paralympic legend and T53 star Angie Ballard (Fred Periac) competed in both the 100m and 400m wheelchair events, with the highlight of her night her 57.05 in the 400m meeting the Paralympic standard. T54 Paralympian Eliza Ault-Connell completed the same double - clocking 17.00 and 57.12. 

Isis Holt (Paul Pearce) continued her impressive return to athletics with a swift 28.68 (-2.0) over 200m and 13.66 (+1.8) for 100m, with the refreshed young gun well within reach of her career best performances. 

In the men’s 100m, was Ari Gesini (Sebastian Kuzminski) running 12.05 - edging closer to AA’s Paralympic B-qualifying standard. 

Gesini’s training partner Alissa Jordaan (Sebastian Kuzminski) who last year broke a 20 year old record in the 400m T46/47, clocked 1:02.02 in the U20 400m, and ran 27.19 in the U20 200m. 

Up and comer Jaydon Page (T47, Sebastian Kuzminski) ran the U20 100m in a 11.18, after clocking 11.10 to qualify for the final. 

In Queensland it was Callum Davies who took out the state 3000m title - with the 21-year-old dipping under 8-minutes in a time of 7:59.51 to hold out Jude Thomas who ran 8:00.07. Thomas demolished the World U20 Qualifier and broke the Queensland U20 record which had stood for 43 years. 

By Lachlan Moorhouse
Posted: 15/2/2021