The highlight of this morning's session at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast was undoubtedly Keely Small's record-breaking run in the heats of the women's 800m. The 16-year-old set new all-time Australian Under 18 and Under 20 standards to establish herself as a star of the future.
A trio of Australia two-lappers took to the track in a cutthroat series of three semi-finals, as Keely Small (ACT), Brittany McGowan (QLD) and Georgia Griffith (VIC) attempted to snare an automatic top-two spot or one of the two available time-qualifying positions.
On paper, Small had drawn a nightmarish semi-final, yet the 16-year old appeared right at home alongside Olympic and World Champion Caster Semenya (RSA), and four competitors faster than Small’s personal best of 2:01.46. The ACT-based runner ran an even, patient race, 60.10 seconds at 400 metres, 1:30.6 at 600 metres and it was clear the youngster was on for something historic.
Whilst finishing sixth and therefore not progressing to the final, Small’s run of 2:00.81 was extraordinary as she smashed her own under-18 national record by 0.65s. That wasn’t the best of the superlatives as she took down the 36-year-old national under 20 mark as well. Michelle Baumgartner’s record of 2:01.1 had stood since 1982. In the process, Small ran the fastest under-18 800 metre time in the world for five years, and the ninth fastest under-18 times in global history.
“It’s definitely what dreams are made of, I came out here to have a good run. To get a PB I’m absolutely stoked! The whole experience of being around other athletes in the village, you learn a lot, and I’m just taking all this experience away with me… I’m absolutely stoked at the moment”
McGowan raced in semi-final two, making a strong move with 150 metres remaining. WIth a fourth-place finish (2:01.17) she narrowly missed out on progressing to the final as one of the next-fastest time qualifiers.
Griffith, fresh off two personal bests in both the 1500 metre heat and final, lined up in semi-final three. Passing through 400 metres in 60.0, the pack bunched slightly, in anticipation of a frantic final acceleration.
Griffith’s closing 200 metres was a rapid 29.5 seconds as she was stuck on the rail, similarly to her 1500m heat. Then, as she hit the straight, she moved into lane three as the crowd roared her home.
A final 100 metre sprint of 14.4 seconds was enough to give the Victorian a new personal best of 2:00.73, it wasn't enough to progress to the final, as she finished with just four-hundredths of a second separating her from a finals berth.
It was an outstanding performance and placed her 13th on the Australia all-time rankings.
“I’m so happy with how the week’s panned out, it definitely gave me heaps of confidence going in, having already PB’ed in the 1500 metres” said Griffith.
Celeste Mucci (VIC) and Alysha Burnett (NSW) enjoyed a morning of personal and season’s bests, as the 100 metre hurdles and high jump kicked off proceedings for the multi-eventers.
Mucci obliterated her personal best in the 100m hurdles, accruing 1096 points with a 13.19 (+0.6) performance, winning her heat comfortably.
The personal best trend continued on the high jump mat for Mucci, as a 1.75m leap added 916 points to her score, placing sixth. Mucci ended the morning in third position overall, on 2012 points.
Burnett opened with a season’s best in the hurdles, third in 14.32 (+0.3), worth 934 points.
Progressing to Burnett’s favoured discipline, a personal best jump of 1.87m (1067 points) placed the 21-year old second behind competition leader Katarina Johnson-Thompson (England).
Burnett finished the morning session in fourth position of 2001 points, as the Australian heptathletes both look to challenge for podium positions in the two-day event.
Women’s 100m Hurdles
Brianna Beahan (WA) and Michelle Jenneke (NSW) both ran exceptionally well in the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles as both progressed tomorrow’s final.
In the first heat, the West Australian was at her lifetime best, equalling her personal record with 13.02 (+0.4) in second behind Nigerian Oluwatobiloba Amusan who ran an impressive 12.73. Beahan is making her Commonwealth Games debut and progressed automatically to the final.
“I’m not gonna lie, I am pretty excited. The middle part of the race wasn't as planned. I was getting pretty close to the hurdles. I’m going to go back a refocus an hopefully break that 13 seconds.” said Beahan.
Eclipsing that barrier will make her just the fifth Australian ever to have the magical 12 point figures next to their name.
One of those five, Jenneke, ran equally impressively in the second heat, as she finished fourth in a season’s best of 12.99 (0.8) behind Danielle Williams, the hot favourite for the title,
“It felt really good. The first half felt good and the second half I just tried to control it a little bit.” said Jenneke.
“I was pretty confident of the time required to get through. I saw the times in the first heart and I wasn’t terribly worried that I wasn't in the top three. I am really happy to have ducked under 13 seconds.”
Australia’s men’s discus trio of Matthew Denny, Benn Harradine and Mitch Cooper all progressed to the final of the men’s discus.
Denny’s 64.67m in the second round was a season’s best and sailed past the automatic qualifying distance of 62.00m. Curiously, the distance matched Harradine’s best this season.
Harradine (61.41m) who threw in the earlier group, and Mitch Cooper (59.68m) both took all three throws as they chased automatic progression to finish fourth and seventh overall ahead of the medal decider.
Hindsight is a great thing and if the Aussie’s had known how many would progress to the final they could have shut down early. In fact, they could have packed up for the day after the first round, as any thrower who registered a valid throw progressed to the final including Fijian Mustafa Fall. The Pacific Islander threw 39.68m and will take his place alongside the Aussie trio on Friday night.
The strong favourite is Fedrick Dacres from Jamaica was the leading qualifier with a solid 66.20m.
Men’s Triple Jump
Emmanuel Fayike, making his Commonwealth Games debut jumped 15.70m in the men’s triple jump qualifying round which was not enough to progress to the final. The NSW athlete who is coached by Nicole Boegman-Stewart and Alex Stewart (coach of high jumper and last night’s gold medallist Brandon Starc) recorded his best leap in the opening round before following with two fouls. He placed 15th overall.
Pat Birgan and Sean Whipp for Athletics Austalia
Statistics and superlatives courtesy of David Tarbotton
Aussies in Action - Next Up
|Thursday 12 April - Evening
|Heptathlon Shot Put
||Celeste Mucci (VIC), Alysha Burnett (NSW)
|Pole Vault Final
||Angus Armstrong (NSW), Kurtis Marschall (SA)
|Long Jump Final
||Brooke Stratton (VIC), Naa Anang (QLD), Lauren Wells (ACT)
|T38 100m Final
||Erin Cleaver (NSW), Ella Pardy (WA), Rhiannon Clarke (WA)
|Discus Throw Final
||Dani Stevens (NSW), Taryn Gollshewsky (QLD), Kimberley Mulhall (VIC)
||Celeste Mucci (VIC), Alysha Burnett (NSW)
||Luke Mathews (VIC), Joseph Deng (QLD)
Follow all the action of the XXI Commonwealth Games
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, from Wednesday 4 April to Sunday 15 April 2018.
Athletics action kicks off on Sunday 8 April and continues until Sunday 15 April.
You can still buy athletics tickets for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games including for finals sessions;
Don’t miss your chance to witness world-class competition live and cheer on the Aussie team.
TV and Digital
The Seven Network will broadcast content on all three of their TV channels - 7, 7TWO and 7Mate.
You can download the 7CommGames app from both the Google Play and Apple store or watch via the website version.
The app and website will have all events on TV and every medal event live, in full and available for free.
Athletics will be hosted by a huge team of athletics specialist led by Bruce McAvaney and include Lord Sebastian Coe, Dave Culbert, Steve Hooker, Tamsyn Lewis.
With Pat Welsh trackside and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Jane Flemming providing additional commentary.
How to listen on radio
ABC Local and Regional Stations – Updates throughout the day with live continuous
coverage from 7.00 pm
The ABC Listen App – on Google Play and Apple store featuring a dedicated Commonwealth Games channel
Grandstand Digital DAB+ – broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
ABC Online – ABC Grandstand will stream its Games coverage
Karen Tighe will host the broadcast with Quentin Hill covering Athletics along with Australia’s fastest man, Patrick Johnson providing expert commentary.