Melissa Breen (ACT) is the national 100m champion and one of six athletes on their way to Beijing 2015 after a huge night of track and field at the 93rd Australian Athletics Championships in Brisbane (Qld).
Adding a third Australian 100m title to her burgeoning trophy cabinet, Breen will be joined at the IAAF World Championships by Alana Boyd (Qld, pole vault), Jeff Riseley (Vic, 800m), Brandon Starc (NSW, high jump), Kim Mickle (WA, javelin) and Julian Wruck (Qld, discus throw).
Breen was the fastest qualifier for the round-of-eight after crossing the line in an IAAF World Championships qualifying time of 11.31 (w: +1.8) in the semi-final, and the clear favourite for the win considering Sally Pearson (Qld) withdrew from the final as a precaution ahead of a scheduled start in the women’s 100m hurdles tomorrow.
In the final, she moved past the quickest starter Toea Wisil (Qld/PNG, second, 11.40) with ease and never looked back, crossing the line in 11.26 (w: +0.9) to ensure her automatic selection and the gold medal.
“I’m so freakin’ happy. It has been such an up and down time since I broke the record, but I’ve stuck to what my coach (Matt Beckenham) said about going with a longer build-up. I have run faster from the heat, to the semi, to the final and that’s a great result. Booking myself an automatic spot was a goal. It’s so awesome. I am so happy,” Breen said.
The men’s event was won by 19-year-old Josh Clarke (NSW), who smashed his personal best to reign supreme 10.19 (w: +1.1). The silver medal was won by Banuve Tabakaucoro (FIJ, 10.26), with Alex Hartmann (Qld, 10.30) the winner of the bronze.
Competing in the women’s pole vault, Boyd broke the 16-year-old championship record of Emma George to win her fourth Australian pole vault title, in front of a home crowd, from Nina Kennedy (WA, second, 4.20m) and Melissa Gergel (USA, third, 4.20m). Entering the competition at 4.35m, her clearance of 4.60m also delivered a second consecutive IAAF World Championships qualifier after she sailed over 4.50m to win at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge last weekend.
“That was fantastic. It has been a long time coming. The conditions were a little bit tough at the start but they improved, and I felt good coming off Melbourne where I got the qualifier done and got the monkey off my back a bit. It came together tonight, and it’s great that that is at the Nationals,” Boyd said.
“The last attempt at 4.70m was OK. If I had have jumped like I did at my winning height I probably would have cleared it. My Dad (coach Ray Boyd) said that that jump was one of the best I’ve ever done so that’s nice to know as well.”
Riseley made his dash for Australian championship gold in the men’s 800m with just shy of 200 metres to go and after taking the lead on the straight he remained unchallenged to win in 1:47.13. The national record holder Alex Rowe (Vic, 1:48.14) won silver, and Josh Ralph (NSW, 1:48.38) the bronze.
His victory cements his position on the team bound for the IAAF World Championships and sets him up for an 800m/1500m double here at the Nationals should he be able to take victory in the final for the longer event tomorrow.
Starc soared over 2.28m in the men’s high jump, with his winning clearance a second qualifier for Beijing 2015 after the 2.30m he jumped at the Sydney Track Classic earlier this Australian Athletics Tour. It adds a second national crown to his athletics resume. He entered the competition at 2.05m and enjoyed clearances at 2.10m, 2.15m, 2.20m and 2.25m before third attempt success at his winning height.
Second placed behind international starter Sunette Viljoen (RSA, 63.29m), Mickle threw 61.02m to become Australian champion and ensure her automatic selection. Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) rounded out the top-three with a throw of 58.61m. Mickle’s win is her tenth in the women’s javelin at the Australian Athletics Championships.
The first to ensure his automatic selection today, Wruck threw 62.03m to take out the men’s discus throw from impressive junior Matthew Denny (Qld, second, 57.16m) and his fellow local Matt Stopel (Qld, third, 57.55m). Boasting a qualifier of 65.54m at the commencement of competition, the two-time NCAA champion Wruck’s series tonight also included marks of 62.03m. 61.90m, 61.27m and two fouls.
“This is a good result, but now it’s about going back into basic training now and finding the form that I had toward the end of last year. It’ll be about running and stretching, losing a little bit of weight and getting back to where I want to be,” Wruck said.
“In Moscow two years ago I finished 11th, which is technically a final, but I want to finish in the top-eight. My goal is to not let the crowd get to me, and to throw beyond where I have. I want to throw what I know I can.”
Para-athlete Isis Holt (Vic) was also very impressive on day three of the Australian Athletics Championships. A T35 cerebral palsy class athlete, the 13-year-old clocked 14.16 to win the women’s ambulant 100m in a world record time less than twelve months after she started seriously training for athletics. The performance is an important one, with the 100m one of the events available to the rising star at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Clocking 12.24, the same time he ran in the heat, para-athletics world champion Scott Reardon (NSW), who is a leg amputee, won the men’s race from IPC Athletics World Championships silver medallist Gabriel Cole (SA) and Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Nicholas Hum (Vic).
The 93rd Australian Athletics Championships continue in Brisbane (Qld) tomorrow, with the last day of competition to feature finals for the women’s discus throw, men’s long jump, women’s 100m hurdles, the men’s 1500m and the women’s 400m hurdles.