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Five athletes bag Olympic qualifiers'

19 February 2012

Lauren Boden (ACT) ran an impressive 400m hurdles at the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday night and was rewarded with an Olympic qualifying time, as was Sally Pearson (Qld) in the 100m hurdles and 200m, Youcef Abdi (NSW) in the 3000m steeplechase, Henry Frayne (Qld) in the long jump, and Alana Boyd (WA), again, in the pole vault. 

Boden opened her domestic campaign in Canberra with a time of 56.62 and has since consistently improved. Here, she ran over a second faster than that opener and crossed the line in 55.45, 0.05 faster than the coveted Olympic qualifying mark of 55.50. 

Boden said: “That’s just perfect. I saw the clock and thought please don’t round up and thankfully it didn’t. I was having a debate with my coach Matty B (Beckenham) before about what stride pattern to run. It was alright for now but there’s room for more improvement. 

“Last week I was really close in Perth and I think a lot of people would’ve gotten stressed by that but I knew for me Sydney was ahead and used that as motivation, and I think it worked.”

Also impressive in the hurdles was world champion Pearson, who won the 100m event in 12.66 (+1.6 m/s), her fastest ever in Australia.

Pearson returned later to clock another Olympic qualifier in the 200m, her first. The IAAF World Athlete of the Year had hoped to run sub-23 seconds, but while she was unable to achieve that, in 23.06, it was the first time she has run below the Olympic qualifying standard.

Pearson said: “Tonight has been a fantastic night, running 12.66 in the hurdles is a world-class time. I ran it in my second last race of the season last year and now I’ve run it in the second race of this year.”

“I just try and get out, run my race and run fast.

“Every year it pushes me to run faster and faster in the 200, I know I’m capable of 22.5. I just have to have the right competition and the right night and hopefully it will come together.”

Abdi’s performance of 8:22.01 adds a third qualifier to his burgeoning resume in the 3000m steeplechase. He now just needs to win at the Qantas Melbourne Track Classic to secure his nomination for London 2012. The race was won by Kenyan Jairus Kipchoge (8:19.04).

In the field Frayne jumped a huge personal best of 8.27m (+1.4m/s) in the long jump to make him the second Australian to have the all important Olympic mark.

His performance added 28 centimeters to his previous career best. It also set a new best Australian long and triple jump double, beating Phil May who boasts marks of 8.04m and 17.02m. World indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) came second in 8.04m.

Frayne said: “I came hoping to run down the runway and sort my run-up for the triple jump in Melbourne in a fortnight. They were pretty nice conditions tonight,with a tailwind, and things just kind of came together.”

Over in the pole vault, Boyd entered the competition at 4.40m and then bowed out at 4.60m, her seventh Olympic qualifying mark. It followed her training partner, Liz Parnov (WA), recording her first Olympic mark 24 hours earlier in Perth (4.50m).

In arguably the most competitive track race on the schedule, the men’s 400m had some international flavour in the shape of David Rudisha (KEN). The 800m world record holder and world champion hadn’t run the one lap since he set a personal best of 45.50 in Sydney two years ago.

He once again was a threat, as he pushed John Steffensen (WA) to the line in 45.61. Steffensen backed up his win last week with the win in Sydney and while Rudisha couldn’t set another personal best, he did finish second in 45.82. Ben Offereins (WA) came third in 46.09 and Kevin Moore (NSW) fourth in 46.25.

Steffensen said: “I just want to thank my team, I've got a wonderful team, wonderful backing and I'm loving my running at the moment.

"I wouldn't call it a reincarnation I’m just doing what I’m meant to do and run fast you know, got great backing and am truly blessed to be in this position.”

Also on the track, world and Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop (KEN) won his first race on Australian soil, in the 800m in 1:45.91. When the pacemaker dropped out at the bell, Kiprop went on to lead through to the end while Jeff Riseley (VIC) made a late charge down the home-straight moving from fifth to second and across the line in 1:46.55. Lachlan Renshaw (NSW) finished third in 1:46.98.

The women’s 800m was equally thrilling, when Tamsyn Manou (VIC) won by 20m in 2:01.53 and her training partner Katherine Katsanevakis (VIC) came second in 2:03.79. 

In other highlights:

-       Zoe Buckman (VIC) made it a hat-trick of wins on home soil in the won 1500m. When the bell sounded Buckman made her charge and opened up a further gap to go clear of the field, to win in a time of 4:09.89. Bridey Delaney (NSW) came second in 4:12.92 and Melissa Duncan (VIC) was third in 4:14.13

-       Collis Birmingham (VIC) ran a thrilling 1500m but had to take second in 3:35.74 after David Torrence (USA) pipped him on the line to win in 3:35.66.

-       Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton (USA) won the discus with a best mark of 63.23m, with Dani Samuels (NSW) second (60.98m).

Athletics Australia

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