Georgia Wassall (NSW) won bronze and Nina Kennedy (WA) equalled the Australian Junior and Youth records in the pole vault providing the highlights of an exciting evening of athletics on Day 3 of the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene (USA).
In the 800m, Wassall ran 2.02.71, to finish third behind Margaret Nyairera Wambui of Kenya who upset race-favourite Sahily Diago of Cuba with a winning time of 2:00.49. The Australian was ecstatic with the result.
“I can’t believe it. I ran perfectly and I am really, really happy. My coach Kevin Wills and I thought it would be fast, but my plan was to run at a pace I was comfortable with.” said Wassall who ran her third-fastest ever time, behind her lifetime best of 2.01.78s set when finishing runner-up to world champion Eunice Sum (KEN) at the Sydney Track Classic earlier in the year.
“When I held on for bronze I thought, wow, I did it” said Wassall, whose performance was the second-best in the event behind Georgie Clarke’s silver medal in 2000.
Another Australian, Georgia Griffith (NSW) placed fourth, in 2.04.12, just 12 hundredths of a second outside the lifetime best she set in the semi-finals.
In the pole vault, Kennedy equalled the Australian Junior and Youth Records with a leap of 4.40m, finishing fourth behind Russian Alena Lutkovskaya who won with a new championship record of 4.50m.
The 17 year-old Australian, had briefly hit the lead when she cleared 4.40m on her first attempt, while Desiree Freier (USA) and Eliza McCartney (NZL) need two attempts, as the Russian passed. At 4.45m, Kennedy had three misses whilst the Russian, American and New Zealander went clear. Still, it was a night to celebrate for the West Australian.
“I felt great out there. All the factors came together and they worked in my favour.” said Kennedy.
“I did the best I can and in the end I didn’t medal, but I got 4.40m and two PBs, I am so, so happy.”
The Australian’s leap matched the records of her training partners Liz and Vicky Parnov set in 2010 and 2007 respectively. Amazingly, all the three women are coached by pole vault-mastermind Alex Parnov, the man who mentored Steve Hooker to World and Olympic titles.
Kennedy is still eligible for the next edition of the championships and was looking forward to the opportunity.
“I am in the youngest age group so maybe I can come back in Kazan and medal there.”
In the 1500m, Zak Patterson (Vic) set a lifetime best of 3:44.21 for fifth, equalling the best ever performance by an Australian in the event at these championships.
Jessica Hull (NSW) ran the race of her life in the 3000m, placing 7th in a lifetime best, which shattered her best by more than 20 seconds.
Earlier in the day, Filoi Aokuso (NSW) in the discus, Stella Radford (Vic) in the 3000m steeplechase and Aliyah Johnston (Qld) in the triple jump, all set lifetime bests to qualify for their respective finals. Meanwhile, Jack Hicking (NSW) soared into the final of the pole vault with a leap of 5.20m, just 6cm below his best.
Matthew Denny (Qld), surprisingly failed to qualify for the final of the men’s hammer throw. The 19 year-old threw 69.16m to finish 23rd. The Queenslander returns tomorrow in his favourite event, the discus, in which he won World Youth gold in Donetsk last year.
Aussies in action
Morning session commences at 3:00am AEST, Saturday 26 July
1500m: Anna Laman (NSW)
10,000m walk: Nathan Brill (Vic), Jesse Osborne (Vic)
800m: Luke Matthews (Vic), Jordan Makin (WA)
100m hurdles: Katrina Hunt (NSW)
400m hurdles: Ella Solin (WA)
High jump: Cassie Purdon (Qld), Nicola McDermott (NSW)
Discus throw: Matthew Denny (Qld), Mitchell Cooper (Qld)
Javelin: Rhys Stein (NSW)
Afternoon session commences at 11:05am AEST, Saturday 26 July
4x100m relay: Josh Clarke (NSW), Jacob Despard (Tas), Anthony Collum (NSW), Ryan Bedford (Qld), Jesse Usoalii (Tas), Bradley Edwards (Qld)
4x100m relay: Hana Basic (Vic), Larissa Chambers (Qld), Brittany Burkitt (Vic), Katrina Hunt (NSW), Tavleen Singh (NSW) Maddie Coates (Vic)
5000m: Morgan McDonald (NSW)
400m hurdles: Ella Solin (WA)
High jump: Joel Baden (Vic)
Discus throw: Filoi Aokuso (NSW)
With thanks to Pat Birgan