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Athletics Wrap - Day 5 Glasgow

29 July 2014

Day 5 Morning Session – Solomon cruises to 400m semis 

COMM GAMES ATHLETICS: The Australian athletics team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games has continued to enjoy strong results in the morning session of the second day of competition at Hampden Park in Glasgow. 2012 Olympic finalist Steve Solomon (NSW) a stand-out as he easily advanced to the second round of the hotly contested men’s 400m. 

Racing in one of the deepest events in Glasgow, Solomon clocked 46.26, easing down to finish in second place in his heat and earn a coveted automatic qualifying spot for the next round. 

Solomon said he was glad to have his first run in Glasgow under his belt so he could now focus on the semi-finals on Tuesday. 

“I did exactly what I needed to,” Solomon said.  “I think I set my race up well and it was my first hit out in a fair while so it was good to get rid of the rust and come back tomorrow firing. 

“I think I will have a whole new tank by tomorrow. When you haven’t raced for a while that first one back can be a bit dusty but I got through the round and that’s what I had to do today.” 

The women’s 1500m heats provided some unexpected drama, as the Commonwealth Games record was broken in the first heat and there was a protest around the second.

In heat one, Kenyan Hellen Obiri ran a scorching 4:04.43 to break the Games Record. Australians Melissa Duncan (VIC) and Kaila McKnight (VIC) benefitted from the fast pace, with Duncan running a personal best of 4:05.76 to finish fifth and McKnight a season’s best time of 4:06.06 in sixth. 

In the second heat, Australia’s 2013 IAAF World Championship 1500m finalist Zoe Buckman (VIC) led early but was the subject of some interference and faded to finish sixth in 4:11.56 and outside the qualifying group. The Australian team subsequently lodged a protest to the jury based on interference coming into the final lap, but it was dismissed and Buckman will miss the final of 12 as the thirteenth fastest athlete. 

There was good news for Australia in the men’s high jump qualification too, as both Nik Bojic (QLD) and Brandon Starc (NSW) advanced to the Final on Wednesday after each successfully clearing 2.20m.  Bojic had a perfect series of jumps, clearing 2.06m, 2.11m, 2.16m and 2.20m all on first attempts. Starc had to work harder and needed gutsy last-ditch clearances at both 2.16m and 2.20m to ensure he made the final. 

In the men’s hammer qualification round, Tim Driesen (ACT) threw a season’s best of 69.63m to ensure a place in the final on Tuesday. Driesen finished with the fifth longest throw of all competitors in either group. Fellow Australian Huw Peacock (TAS) reached 63.95m with his furthest qualifying attempt, but it wasn’t enough to advance and he finished in 14th overall place. 

In the first day of the men’s decathlon competition, after three completed events Stephen Cain (VIC) sits in 15th place and Jake Stein (NSW) is 18th

Stein started the competition with a decathlete’s worst possible nightmare, false starting twice in the opening 100m and the subsequent disqualification seeing him earn zero points for the event. 

“It’s a school boy error,” a disappointed Stein reflected. “You learn to start when you are seven or eight and I forgot how to do it today. 

“For the first few seconds after it I wondered whether I wanted to keep going but it came to me quickly that I have to. I have trained for two years to get back on to the track and being out there, the stadium is ridiculous, there are 40,000 people watching me here and I’m looking forward to what is still to come.” 

Stein recovered from his disappointing sprint start to jump 7.15m in the long jump (850 points) and win his group in the shot put with a throw of 14.80m (777 points).  

Cain opened his decathlon with an 11.33 performance in the 100m (789 points) before reaching 6.73 (750 points) in the long jump and 13.87m (720 points) in the shot. 

Day 5 evening session – Youth Olympian Birkinhead stands tall 

The future of the Australian athletics team is looking bright after young shot putter Damien Birkinhead (Vic) impressed in his first senior international championship, finishing in fifth position in a strong field. 

If he felt any, 21-year-old Birkinhead showed no nerves, opening with a throw of 19.12m and following up with 18.23m in round two. He then unleashed the shot for a near personal-best distance of 19.59m to advance to the top eight.  Birkinhead fouled his next two attempts before closing with a throw of 18.84m.  

“That was just great, hey,” the man known as the ‘Corio Colossus’ beamed after the competition.  “The atmosphere out there, and everything really. At the end of the day it was a great comp and being out there was the experience of a lifetime. I couldn’t be happier. 

“This has taught me to trust my ability, believe in myself and get the job done. I’m happy with how I threw, it’s not easy to throw near your PB in an environment like this and to do that was a big result. 

“I don’t know what I was expecting coming here, I just wanted the chance to throw against the bigger guys and I got to do that which will be an important thing for me in the long run.” 

Birkinhead has had a steady progress through Athletics Australia’s High Performance programs. Starting in the Under 17 Development Squad before advancing to the Under 19 Talent Squad, he has represented Australia at the IAAF World Youth and IAAF World Junior Championships before graduating to the senior team, winning a bronze medal in Barcelona (ESP) in 2012. 

Birkinhead was also a finalist at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games at Singapore 2010 to give him an Olympic taste ahead of Rio 2016. 

In the women’s hammer throw final, Gabrielle Neighbour (Vic) secured a top eight finish in her third appearance at a Commonwealth Games. Neighbour opened with a throw of 60.65m before following up with 59.44m and 57.92m. Her first round effort was enough to ensure a top eight finish and another series of three throws. All three of her final throws were over 60 metres, including her fifth round attempt of 61.84m which was her best of the competition, but it wasn’t enough to improve her ranking and she finished in eighth place. 

Neighbour’s fellow Australian hammer thrower Lara Nielsen (QLD) managed 60.18m with her second attempt but was unable to make the top eight, finishing just outside in ninth. 

On the track, Anneliese Rubie (NSW) ran a strong race in the women’s 400m semi-final to finish in fourth position in a time of 52.55.  In the earlier 400m women’s semi-final, national champion Morgan Mitchell (Vic) ran 53.37 to finish in sixth place. 

The 22 year-old Rubie had the 11th fastest time of the 24 semi-finalists but unfortunately neither she nor Mitchell advanced to the final. 

“I was so close, I just missed out on that final, but I’ve learnt so much from this,” Rubie said. “I know what it is all about for next time I get the chance. I’ve got an understanding of how to control the things that I can at a major, the call room, ignoring external things and getting out there and running. It’s been a really positive experience. 

“The relay is still to come and I am ready to go for then. I can draw from this and come out a better athlete. I know to use the crowd to bring me home and I know that I’ll run a great relay leg when I’m back out here with the girls on Friday and Saturday.” 

Australian women’s 100m record holder Melissa Breen (ACT) ran gallantly in her semi-final but was unable to advance to the final. Breen ran 11.45 (wind +0.1m) to finish fifth as Schillonie Calvert (JAM) won the race in 11.08. 

“That’s all I had tonight. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough again,” Breen said. “I went to chase mode and I probably panicked a bit. It felt like I got out alright but then just got nowhere. It’s just amazing how much this hurts. 

“I really thought that there was something coming, but it didn’t. If this is the worst thing that happened this year then it’s not that bad really.” 

Jake Stein (NSW) continued his recovery from the horror start to the men’s decathlon this morning when he was disqualified from the 100m for two false starts and scored zero points, closing the day with a huge personal best in the 400m. Stein ran 50.63, more than half a second faster than his previous best time over the one-lap race, to win his heat. Earlier in the session he cleared 1.96cm in the high jump to finish Day One on 2,394 points in 18th place. 

Hi compatriot Stephen Cain (Vic) cleared 1.99m in the high jump, and ran 51.07 in the 400m to finish second behind Stein and finish the day on 3,819 points and in 12th position. 

Australia will have two athletes in the women’s triple jump final tomorrow local time, after Linda Leverton (Qld) and Ellen Pettitt (Vic) both earned a berth. Leverton reached the automatic qualifying mark of 13.40m with her second attempt, when she leapt 13.48m to lead her pool. Pettitt advanced as one of the best non-qualifiers courtesy of her first round attempt of 13.34m (+0.1). 

Athletics Australia (Olympic events coverage)

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