Eloise Wellings (NSW) and David McNeill (Vic) will be automatically nominated for selection to the 2016 Australian Olympic Team.
The winners of the women’s and men’s Australian 10,000m championship races at the Zatopek:10, the duo are also the maiden recipients of the recently inaugurated Ron Clarke Medal thanks to their impressive runs in Melbourne (Vic) tonight.
Wellings was paced beautifully by her training partners Melissa Duncan (Vic) and Genevieve LaCaze (Vic) to fifteen laps before going it alone. It was then that she dug deep across the closing stages to convincingly win in a qualifying time of 32:02.61 from Camille Buscomb (NZL, 32.26.36) and Virginia Moloney (Vic, 34:00.00).
Citing relief and excitement after crossing the line, Wellings was thrilled by a performance that she shared with her daughter, Indi, husband and parents, who all travelled from Sydney (NSW) to watch. The result also adds a fourth national 10,000m crown to her trophy cabinet.
“I knew I was in good shape after three weeks at altitude, but I haven’t run 10,000m on the track for twelve months. There’s always that little bit of doubt, but I’ve had people behind me, telling me that I shouldn’t be doing that, and the regular reaffirming of how the training has been going was great to have,” Wellings said.
“I felt pretty easy during the first 15 laps, that was when the girls pulled out. I knew that was going to happen, though, and I just made sure that I was ready to dig deep and hurt towards the end, becoming a bit like a metronome.
“My sports psychologist told me to put the black curtains down, forget everything else, and to focus only on my form, to focus only on my steps. I guess it worked. It was hurting inside the last three laps and because I was on pace I got that little bit nervous, not wanting to stuff it up. That would have been really embarrassing.”
McNeill’s automatic nomination comes after he crossed to win in a time of 28:03.69, with the qualifier for Rio 2016 already under his belt thanks to a 27:45.01 run at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Stanford (USA) in May.
Duelling with his Melbourne Track Club training partner Brett Robinson (Vic, second, 28:24.49) and former college teammate Brian Shrader (USA, second, 28:33.22) across the course of the race, McNeill broke away inside the closing kilometre to take line honours.
“It was a huge motivation, the spot for Rio. For the last Olympic Games I was injured and did a qualifier at the last minute and everything was rushed for that. I knew that if I came away with this result tonight that I’d have eight months to focus on being ready for next year. It does wonders for my mental preparation and I’m incredibly grateful,” McNeill said.
“This could have been Brett or my race today, we train really hard together. It was nice to be around familiar people out there.
“It’s been a winding road to here. After 2008 I had a couple of good years, finished college and I feel like I’ve been injured ever since. I had the sense to join Nic Bideau and he has done great things to take care of me, my mental preparation, my training, he’s been in my ear each day and it has made a huge difference”
In other results from the Zatopek:10 and day two of the Australian All Schools Championships:
– Rosa Flanagan (NZL) ran 9:19.23 to win the Lisa Ondieki 3000m for girl’s aged under 20. The silver medal was won by Holly Campbell (NSW, 9:28.20) and the bronze by Katrina Robinson (Qld, 9:32.36), with both Australian results IAAF World Junior Championships qualifying performances.
– Matthew Ramsden (WA) ran 8:09.97 to win the Rob De Castella 3000m for boy’s aged under 20. He was joined on the podium by Oliver Hoare (NSW, second, 8:09.93) and William McCann (SA, third, 8:12.12)
– Australian under 18 record holder Jack Hale (Tas) won his second consecutive 100m title at the Australian All Schools Championships in a time of 10:58 (w: +0.1). The silver medal was won by Anthony Gale (NSW, 10.76), with Callum McCarthy (Qld, 10.84) winning bronze.
– Paige Wilson (NSW) jumped 1.82m in the girl’s under 18 high jump to secure a qualifier for the IAAF World Junior Championships next year.
– IAAF World Youth Championships bronze medallist Ned Weatherly (Vic) improved the meet record in the boy’s hammer throw to 80.32m, securing a gold medal in the process.