On day six of the Australian Track & Field Championships titles, being held in Sydney, the open events took centre stage and produced surprise results and four qualifying performances for the world championships.
17-year-old ACT athlete Eddie Nketia won the coveted Australian 100m at the Championships in Sydney in a time of 10.22, ahead of Rohan Browning (10.28) and Jack Hale (10.34).
Nketia comes from a brilliant pedigree of pace with his father (Gus Nketia) being the New Zealand national record holder (10.11).
He wasn’t sure he had the time in him, but his father had full faith.
“My Dad thought I was capable (in the summer of me achieving this), but I did not,” Nketia said.
“My expectation was just to get a personal best”
What a great start to her 2019 campaign it has been for Kelsey Barber. Tonight she nailed 63.53m to win the javelin from Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell, who was also impressive with 62.78m. For Barber it was three qualifiers from three javelin competitions over 14 days, while for Mitchell, in just her second competition in 12 months, she claimed her first world champs qualifier.
“Very, very happy,” said Barber. “I just had so much fun out there tonight.
“I’m on an awesome stepping stone into the European season.”
After six competitions this summer, four of them over 64 metres, the 65 metes world championships mark had eluded discus thrower Matt Denny (QLD). But in the last competition of the summer and on his last attempt, he nailed it, when he spun the discus out to 65.28m – and booked his place for the 2019 Doha World Championships.
“Last one of the season, good way to finish it I guess,” said Denny. “There was a lot of pressure on this week to achieve a world champs qualifier. I was on the cusp of it and also needed 65m to upgrade on NAS (athlete funding). This will now relax me a bit more. I’m not chasing as much and will lead to bigger throws for sure.
He is comfortable with pressure.
“I’ve always been very good under pressure. I proved it at the Commonwealth Games in the third round in the hammer.”
While most favorites claimed victory on the night, one that didn’t follow the form guide was the men’s 800m. National 800m record holder Joseph Deng (VIC) led at the bell but was run down and passed by most of the field, placing seventh, while his training partner Peter Bol (VIC) just held on to win in 1:46.12 from Commonwealth Games team member Josh Ralph (NSW) running 1:46.15.
“To come first today means a lot, everyone says athletics is a patient game and now I realise what they mean. It wasn’t even a qualifier, but it feels good to get the win,” said an elated Bol.
“If you want to win championships you’ve got to start at home."
One of the surprise performances of the meet was the world championships qualifier of 2.30m by high jumper Joel Baden. After he launched his career in 2014 by jumping 2.29m at a school carnival, it is fair to say his career has seesawed. Another 2.29m in 2016, then no higher than 2.24m in the last few years. But he was brilliant tonight clearing 2.24, passing 2.27m, before his third attempt clearance at 2.30m.
He didn’t have an ideal preparation with some injury and then revealed a surprise about his footwear.
“I was wearing my long jump spikes because it helped for some weird reason.”
He was also explained that he was off a shorter run-up of seven steps (usual nine steps).
Long jumper, turned sprinter Naa Anang (QLD) in her first season of serious sprinting was untroubled taking the 100m title in a stunning 11.32 seconds. Her breakthrough time of 11.43 last month had installed her as favorite and she didn’t disappoint. History awaits her as if she can take the long jump title, ahead of Brooke Stratton, she will become just the first athlete in the 69-year history of the championships to claim this double.
“You’ve got to take these moments while you can so I’m very happy.” said Anang, but she wanted to set th recrd straight.
“I have to make this clear. I’m still a long jumper and not a sprinter! I’m a long jumper who runs, it’s part of my training and it was going really well in training and I just wanted to see whether it translated to a 100m race because it’s a bit further than what I run in long jump. I’m still a long jumper.”
Commonwealth Games team teenager Bendere Oboya (NSW) clocked her second fastest ever time of 52.00 to win the national 400m title. She also just missed the automatic qualifying mark of 51.90 for the world championships. She comfortable defeated Rio Olympian Caitlin Jones (QLD, 53.20) and Angie Blackburn (ACT, 53.36).
Veteran Alwyn Jones won his tenth national triple jump title with his fifth-round jump of 15.95m. Under pressure from a group of rising young stars, including athletes he coaches, the master was in the end a convincing winner with four of his jumps superior to second placed Ayo Ore (VIC).
“I’m surprised and very relived at the same time, said Jones. “I thought I had a chance, it was a pretty tough comp. I had experience and just fought through and snuck out the win.
“My athlete got second and nearly beat me which is what I was more excited about.”
From an outside lane, Steve Solomon steamed home to take his sixth national 400m title in 45.99, defeating Queenslander Alex Beck 46.31.
Solomon was pleased with his win considering his build up.
“It was a tough one to come into these championships. I had a foot injury that’s been a real mental battle for me. So not having raced individually before tonight, and my heats I just wasn’t there mentally.”
For the third occasion this year, Queensland teenager Corey Anderson has broken the F38 javelin world record with a mark of 55.14m. Earlier in the week he had raised the standard to 54.27m.
“That was pretty good (on another world record), another big PB for me,” said Anderson. “It’s exciting to get over 55m, nearly there to get 60m. Hopefully I will do that (throw 60m or more) in Dubai for the world championships.”
Local athlete Alex Hulley defended her open women’s hammer throw title with a mark of 65.49m. It was her sixth consecutive podium finish.
- Lianna Davidson (NSW) set a meet record and four metre PB of 54.61m to win the under-18 javelin.
- Renee Hardy (NSW) broke the under-17 hammer record with her fourth round throw of 54.97m.
- In the under-17 200m, two athletes Prosper Nwoko (QLD) 21.49 and Max Mandera (NSW) 21.57 dipped under the meet record.
- With her win in the 200m in a meet record of 23.65, Ellie Beer clinched the under-17 200/400m double.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia