Defending Commonwealth long jump champion Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) has kept his dream of back-to-back gold medals alive, qualifying for the men’s final as the fourth longest jumper of the competition as Day Three of the athletics opened at Hampden Park in Glasgow (SCO).
Lapierre, who took gold in Delhi (IND) four years ago, leapt a season’s best 7.95m (w: +0.9) on his third and final attempt in the qualification round to better the automatic advancement mark of 7.90m and earn a berth in the final.
“That’s a confidence booster for sure,” Lapierre said. “I don’t really think about being the reigning champion, I just think about getting out there tomorrow and winning. That’s what I am here to do.
“I think I took it too easy on the first two jumps. I just thought I would hit one and it wasn’t to be so I had to push a bit harder on the last one to make sure. I can always pull something out on any given day, so we’ll see what happens in the final, hopefully it’s there.”
All three Australians in the men’s long jump advanced to the Final, with Lapierre’s teammates both also making the top 12. Henry Frayne (Qld) leapt 7.85m (w: -0.7) on his first qualifying attempt and it was good enough to rank him eighth amongst the 25 competing athletes.
“It was actually only my fourth jump for the year, it’s been a pretty atrocious build up, I haven’t had a consistent lead in or preparation but inconsistent lead ups are becoming my thing I suppose,” said Frayne.
“I’m hoping to work into the international season from here, some Diamond League events and then Continental Cup. I felt really good in my first jump today, it had been two years since my last major competition and the adrenalin was back which is good.”
Robbie Crowther (Qld) finished ninth and also advanced to the long jump final courtesy of his 7.72m (w: +0.2) first round leap.
“It was so good to finally be out there,” Crowther said. “That’s my best performance in Europe so far so I am pretty happy with that. I was pretty nervous about even getting to the start line, the body has had some problems, so from here I’ll go back, recover and get it together for a one-two-three for Australia in any order.”
In the women’s 400m hurdles heats, Lauren Wells (ACT) impressed with a strong run to come second in her race despite easing down. Always looking in control, Wells ran 55.79 and automatically advanced to the Final on Thursday with the third fastest time.
The news wasn’t as good for teammate Lyndsay Pekin (WA) however as her time of 57.92 saw her miss out on the last round, coming fourth in her heat and ranking 11th fastest.
Australian middle distance runner Jeff Riseley (Vic) provided another track highlight in the morning session when he stormed through on the inside to overhaul Ferguson Rotich (KEN) and win his heat of the men’s 800m. Riseley hit the tape in 1:48.63 to earn a berth in Wednesday’s Semi-Finals where he will join 800m world record holder and London Olympic gold medallist David Rudisha of Kenya. Riseley’s teammate Joshua Ralph (NSW) clocked 1:52.48 to finish fifth in a later heat but could not move on as one of the 16 semi-finalists, his time ranking him 21st overall.
Nicholas Hough (NSW) advanced to the men’s 110m hurdles Final after finishing third in his heat in the time of 13.70 (W: -0.2). Despite clipping a number of hurdles, Hough still ran fast enough to be the seventh fastest qualifier. Australian teammate Sam Baines (Vic) ran 14.03 (-2.4) to place fifth in his heat but did not advance.
The wheelchair para-athletes made their debut at Hampden Park for the Games with the heats of both the men’s and women’s T54 1500m being held. Christie Dawes (NSW) got things off to a great start for Australia, cruising into second place in her heat in 3:53.07 to auto advance to the Final on Thursday. In a more tactical second women’s T54 heat, Angela Ballard (NSW) also earned an automatic qualifying spot by coming comfortably second in 4:01.69.
In the men’s T54 1500m Richard Colman (Vic) came third in the first heat in a time of 3:30.09 to ensure he advanced to the Final on Thursday as an automatic qualifier. Richard Nicholson (ACT) finished fourth in the same heat and also progressed on his time 3:30.12. In the second heat Kurt Fearnley (NSW) survived a rough and tumble affair that saw one competitor crash out of his chair to win in 3:19.65 and book his spot in the Final and ensure that all three Australians would have the chance to vie for gold. Fearnley’s time was the fastest of any competitor in the heats.
The first day of competition in the women’s Heptathlon saw Australia’s Sophie Stanwell (NSW) lining up with 11 other multi-event athletes from around the Commonwealth. Stanwell got off to the perfect start, winning her heat of the 100m hurdles in 14.18 (-1.4) to better her previous personal best of 14.23 and earn 953 points. She followed that up with a jump of 1.69m in the high jump for 842 points to finish on 1,795 points and in seventh position after two events. She will contest the shot put and 400m in the Tuesday afternoon session later today.
The second day of competition in the men’s Decathlon opened with the 110m hurdles. Stephen Cain (Vic) clocked 14.85 to score 868 points, while Jake Stein (NSW) ran 15.09 for 839. Cain then reached a new personal best in the discus with a hurl of 44.87m (764) while Stein threw the platter 50.37m for 878 points. The pair closed the morning session out with the pole vault, Stein successfully negotiating his way over 4.10m (465 points) while Cain managed a soaring clearance over a season’s best 4.90m (880 points). Cain currently sits in sixth place in the men’s decathlon overall on 6,331 points while Stein is in 14th place on 5,542.
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.