The impressive five-medal haul won by the Australian Uniroos athletics team at the World University Games is equal to the best ever performance by a green and gold squad at the event.
Matching the total number of medals won in Belgrade (SER) in 2009 to become one of the greatest team performances from 28 starts by an athletics squad at the Summer Universiade, the result of one gold, one silver and three bronze highlights the burgeoning depth of talent the sport now enjoys as we look ahead to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and a home Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast (Qld) in 2018.
Athletics Australia Head Coach, Craig Hilliard, is proud of the team’s achievements and the number of personal best performances.
“The number of medals won by the athletics team at the World University Games is equal to our best ever and makes the squad one of the most successful to ever represent the Australian Uniroos at the event. It matches the very successful result we enjoyed in 2009, and highlights some of the upcoming talent that we have,” Hilliard said.
“Most importantly, many of the medallists produced personal best performances in securing their results, as did a number of other team members who progressed to finals, and from a performance viewpoint this is significant. It indicates that the athletes and their coaches are making sound progress in all aspects of their preparation and peaking when required. This should be commended.”
“It is also worth noting that our medallists were some of the youngest team members and that many of the athletes have used their previous experiences at events including the Commonwealth Games and the IAAF World Youth and World Junior Championships as the perfect springboard for further development in Gwangju.”
“I would personally like to congratulate the whole team, including the athletes, the management team, coaches and medical staff, on a job well done.”
Australia’s success began with Dane Bird-Smith (Qld) in the men’s 20km walk, with the IAAF World Championships bound walks charge clocking 1:21:30 to win gold by a mere three seconds in a dash to the finish line.
This great result was quickly followed by a silver medal to Matthew Denny (Qld) in the men’s discus throw and bronze to Naa Anang (Qld) in the women’s long jump, Michelle Jenneke (NSW) in the women’s 100m hurdles and the team of Rachel Tallent (Vic), Stephanie Stigwood (NSW) and Nicole Fagan (NSW) in the women’s 20km walk.
Denny’s surprise result came after he threw a new personal best of 62.58m in trying wet conditions, with Anang also bettering her previous lifetime best to ensure her spot on the podium. Jenneke’s time of 12.94 saw her break through the 13-second barrier for a third time.
In other strong performances, Alex Beck (Qld) set a new personal best of 45.91 in the final of the men’s 400m, Jin Su Jung (NSW) and Tom Gamble (Qld) were outstanding in the men’s 100m to both lower their previous best ever time and the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams progressed to the final.
In the field, Nicola McDermott (NSW) placed 4th to narrowly miss a medal in the women’s high jump, Taryn Gollshewsky (Qld) made the final of the women’s discus throw, while Commonwealth Games representative Lara Nielsen (Qld) finished 7th in the women’s hammer throw.