Australian athlete Dani Samuels (NSW) has finished second in the women’s discus throw in the fourth round of the IAAF Diamond League at the Golden Gala at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome (ITA) this morning in a meet that was overshadowed by a terrible fall to Sally Pearson (Qld.) which left the Olympic champion injured.
Samuels hurled the discus 65.47m to finish just behind reigning Olympic gold medallist Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, who threw 67.92m to win the competition. Samuels’ effort in Rome was her second longest throw of 2015 thus far and the tenth best performance of her career. It also improved on the 64.45m she threw to finish third in the opening round of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha (QAT) three weeks ago.
The Australian opened the competition all guns blazing as she had her best throw in the first round to take an early lead. Perkovic responded however to register her winning mark in the second round. Samuels attempted to regain the lead and threw solidly for the rest of the competition but was unable to unseat the Croatian. She threw 64.03m in the second round, 65.24m in the third, 62.54m in the fourth, 62.08m in the fifth and 63.95m with her final effort.
Despite Samuel’s outstanding efforts, a serious fall by Sally Pearson in her 100m hurdles race overshadowed the meet for the Australians. Pearson fell heavily mid-race and was in obvious pain on the track, holding her left wrist and arm.
Pearson was taken immediately to a local hospital but the extent of her injury is not yet known.
Pearson was not the only athlete to fall in the race, with American Brianna Rollins also failing to finish and Jasmin Stowers (USA) having difficulty as well. The race was eventually won by a third American, Sharika Nelvis, in the time of 12.52 (wind + 1.0).
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase the third Australian competing in Rome, Madeline Heiner (NSW), ran strongly to be right amongst the leaders until late in the race. She finished in fifth place and set a new personal best time of 9:21.56. That performance ranks her as the second fastest Australian woman of all-time, with the Australian record of 9.18.35 set by Donna (Tyberek) MacFarlane in 2008 now firmly in her sights. It was also Heiner’s second personal best in the past month, after clocking 9.28.41 in Doha three weeks ago.
To see full results from the Golden Gala IAAF Diamond League meet click here.
The Golden Gala in Rome was part of the 14-meeting IAAF Diamond League series of events which is spread across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the USA, and attracts the best athletes from around the world. The series includes a competition programme of 32 events representing virtually the full spectrum of Olympic track and field disciplines, and offers a total of 8 million US dollars in prize money. Athletes battle season long to accumulate points in each discipline to win a 40,000 USD cash prize and a spectacular Diamond Trophy.
The next stop on the IAAF Diamond League will be in Birmingham (UK) on Sunday 7 June. Eight Australians have been invited to compete at the event – Zoe Buckman (VIC – Women’s 1500m), Brett Robinson (VIC – Men’s 5000m), Collis Birmingham (VIC – Men’s 5000m), Sally Pearson (QLD – Women’s 100m Hurdles), Madeline Heiner (NSW – Women’s 3000m Steeplechase), Dani Samuels (NSW – Women’s Discus), Sam Baines (VIC – Men’s 110mH) and Hamish Peacock (TAS – Men’s Javelin). The meet will be televised LIVE on Eurosport (Channel 511 on Foxtel) from 12:00PM midnight AEST on Monday.
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