Birkinhead Stands Tall In Glasgow Shot Put

The future of the Australian athletics team is looking bright after young shot putter Damien Birkinhead (Vic) impressed in his first senior international championship on Day Two of Commonwealth Games track and field at Hampden Park in Glasgow (SCO), finishing in fifth position in a strong field.


If he felt any, 21-year-old Birkinhead showed no nerves, opening with a throw of 19.12m and following up with 18.23m in round two. He then unleashed the shot for a near personal-best distance of 19.59m to advance to the top eight.  Birkinhead fouled his next two attempts before closing with a throw of 18.84m.


“That was just great, hey,” the man known as the ‘Corio Colossus’ beamed after the competition.  “The atmosphere out there, and everything really. At the end of the day it was a great comp and being out there was the experience of a lifetime. I couldn’t be happier.


“This has taught me to trust my ability, believe in myself and get the job done. I’m happy with how I threw, it’s not easy to throw near your PB in an environment like this and to do that was a big result.


“I don’t know what I was expecting coming here, I just wanted the chance to throw against the bigger guys and I got to do that which will be an important thing for me in the long run.”


Birkinhead has had a steady progress through Athletics Australia’s High Performance programs. Starting in the Under 17 Development Squad before advancing to the Under 19 Talent Squad, he has represented Australia at the IAAF World Youth and IAAF World Junior Championships before graduating to the senior team, winning a bronze medal in Barcelona (ESP) in 2012.


In the women’s hammer throw final, Gabrielle Neighbour (Vic) secured a top eight finish in her third appearance at a Commonwealth Games.  Neighbour opened with a throw of 60.65m before following up with 59.44m and 57.92m.  Her first round effort was enough to ensure a top eight finish and another series of three throws.  All three of her final throws were over 60 metres, including her fifth round attempt of 61.84m which was her best of the competition, but it wasn’t enough to improve her ranking and she finished in eighth place.


Neighbour’s fellow Australian hammer thrower Lara Nielsen (QLD) managed 60.18m with her second attempt but was unable to make the top eight, finishing just outside in ninth.


On the track, Anneliese Rubie (NSW) ran a strong race in the women’s 400m semi-final to finish in fourth position in a time of 52.55.  In the earlier 400m women’s semi-final, national champion Morgan Mitchell (Vic) ran 53.37 to finish in sixth place.

The 22 year-old Rubie had the 11th fastest time of the 24 semi-finalists but unfortunately neither she nor Mitchell advanced to the final.


“I was so close, I just missed out on that final, but I’ve learnt so much from this,” Rubie said.  “I know what it is all about for next time I get the chance. I’ve got an understanding of how to control the things that I can at a major, the call room, ignoring external things and getting out there and running.  It’s been a really positive experience.


“The relay is still to come and I am ready to go for then.  I can draw from this and come out a better athlete.  I know to use the crowd to bring me home and I know that I’ll run a great relay leg when I’m back out here with the girls on Friday and Saturday.”


Australian women’s 100m record holder Melissa Breen (ACT) ran gallantly in her semi-final but was unable to advance to the final.  Breen ran 11.45 (wind +0.1m) to finish fifth as Schillonie Calvert (JAM) won the race in 11.08.


“That’s all I had tonight. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough again,” Breen said. “I went to chase mode and I probably panicked a bit. It felt like I got out alright but then just got nowhere. It’s just amazing how much this hurts.


“I really thought that there was something coming, but it didn’t.  If this is the worst thing that happened this year then it’s not that bad really.”


Jake Stein (NSW) continued his recovery from the horror start to the men’s decathlon this morning when he was disqualified from the 100m for two false starts and scored zero points, closing the day with a huge personal best in the 400m.  Stein ran 50.63, more than half a second faster than his previous best time over the one-lap race, to win his heat.  Earlier in the day he cleared 1.96cm in the high jump to finish Day One on 2,394 points in 18th place.


Hi compatriot Stephen Cain (Vic) also cleared 1.99m in the high jump, and ran 51.07 in the 400m to finish second behind Stein and finish the day on 3,819 points and in 12th position.


Australia will have two athletes in the women’s triple jump final tomorrow local time, after Linda Leverton (Qld) and Ellen Pettitt (Vic) both earned a berth.  Leverton reached the automatic qualifying mark of 13.40m with her second attempt, when she leapt 13.48m to lead her pool.  Pettitt advanced as one of the best non-qualifiers courtesy of her first round attempt of 13.34m (+0.1).


In the men’s T37 100m final, Sean Roberts (SA) ran valiantly to finish in sixth place in a time of 13.10 (-1.7). The effort was especially impressive given the 21-year-old Roberts was representing Australia at his first senior international championship event.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games commenced in Glasgow on Wednesday 23 July, with athletics competition spanning seven days from Sunday 27 July. The competing Australian athletics team is 98-strong, the largest ever to compete in the green and gold offshore.


Events on day three, together with competing athletes are listed below.
The session start time is listed in Australian Eastern Standard Time and events in the order of occurrence.

Session One – 7:02pm AEST, Tuesday 29 July onwards at Hampden Park
Men’s Decathlon: Jake Stein (NSW), Steve Cain (Vic)
Women’s Heptathlon: Sophie Stanwell (NSW)
Men’s Long Jump (Qualifying): Henry Frayne (Qld), Robbie Crowther (Qld), Fabrice Lapierre (NSW)
Men’s 110m Hurdles (Round 1): Sam Baines (Vic), Nicholas Hough (NSW)
Women’s T54 Wheelchair 1500m (Round 1): Christie Dawes (NSW), Angela Ballard (NSW)
Men’s T54 Wheelchair 1500m (Round 1): Richard Nicholson (ACT), Kurt Fearnley (NSW), Richard Colman (Vic)
Men’s 400m Hurdles (Round 1): Ian Dewhurst (NSW)
Women’s 400m Hurdles (Round 1): Lauren Wells (ACT), Lyndsay Pekin (WA)
Men’s 800m (Round 1): Jeff Riseley (Vic), Joshua Ralph (NSW)

Session Two – 3:30am AEST, Wednesday 30 July onwards at Hampden Park

Men’s Decathlon: Jake Stein (NSW), Steve Cain (Vic)
Women’s Heptathlon: Sophie Stanwell (NSW)
Women’s Triple Jump (Final): Linda Leverton (Qld), Ellen Pettitt (Vic)
Men’s 400m (Semi-Final): Steven Solomon (NSW)
Men’s 110m Hurdles (Final): Nicholas Hough (NSW), Sam Baines (Vic)
Men’s Hammer Throw (Final): Tim Driesen (Vic)
Women’s 1500m (Final): Kaila McKnight (Vic), Melissa Duncan (Vic)

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Lachlan Rayner
Lachlan is the Founder of Athletics Exclusive. His athletic background is basically made up of distance running, who competes in a range of events, varying from the 400m up to 3000m.

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