Buckman and LaCaze post PBs

2 June 2014

ATHLETICS: World championships finalist Zoe Buckman took advantage of a super-fast 1500m at the Diamond League meet in Oregon to improve her personal best and consolidate her position as the third-fastest Australian over the distance.

Fellow London Olympian Genevieve LaCaze also produced her fastest race at a meet in Belgium. 

Kenyan Hellen Obiri claimed the win on Saturday in the 1500m - three minutes 57.05 seconds, with Buckman finishing ninth in 4:04.09, stripping 0.73 off the time she set at last year's world titles in Moscow.

"It was a real test of my strength going out that hard," said Buckman, who sat 10 metres off the lead for much of a race set up by a pacemaker.

"It was an ambitious pace but a lot of my 1500m races lately have been slow with an 800m kick so it was a real shock to my body.

"I haven't had that experience in a long time. Probably since worlds."

Buckman, 25, spent four years in Eugene attending the University of Oregon, but had not raced there since 2011.

"Surprisingly I wasn't nervous," she said.

"I thought I would be more nervous than usual in front of my college crowd. This was my second home for many years. But I wasn't intimidated at all because I've run at world champs now.

"I'm a completely different athlete now.

"I'm a little tired from all the recent travel, but I'm still happy with a PB because that's what I came here for."

The two Australian women who have gone faster than Buckman are three-time Olympian Sarah Jamieson (4:00.93) and Margaret Crowley (4:01.34) who was fifth at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Australian steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze also bettered her PB on the weekend in a welcome return to form less than two months out from the Commonwealth Games.

Competing at the Flanders Cup Meeting in Oordegem, Belgium, LaCaze guaranteed her spot on the Commonwealth games team with an A qualifying time of 9:37.16, which saw her place second in a race won by Charlotta Fougberg in a Swedish record of 9:34.61.

The time improves on her best this year by more than ten seconds and it is only the third time that the University of Florida alumni has cracked the 9:40.00 barrier ever.

Having spent recent weeks training in America, LaCaze relocated to her European base earlier this week, with this performance for second overall at the Flanders Cup Meeting in Oordegem (NED) a perfect start to what will hopefully be a strong build towards Glasgow 2014.

Importantly for the Australian athletics team, both Buckman and LaCaze clocked their first Commonwealth Games A-Qualifiers with their times this morning. This means that Australia can now take a full quota of three runners to the Commonwealth Games in the women’s 1500m and 3000m steeplechase as at least one A-Standard is required for this selection outcome to eventuate.

In other Australian action over the weekend, Ryan Gregson was sixth in the men's mile in 3:53.85 at the Prefontaine meet in Oregon.

After being in eighth spot at the bell, Gregson surged all the way to second before fading in the final 200 metres in a race won by American Leonel Manzano. He missed his personal best by less than a second. 
The strong run follows his recent Commonwealth Games A-Qualifier of 3:36.17 at the Oxy High Performance Meet in Eagle Rock (USA).

Collis Birmingham (13:27.17) was 12th in the 5000m behind eventual winner Caleb Ndiku (KEN, 13:01.71, WL). The final race of Birmingham's American campaign, the IAAF World Indoor Championships 3000m finalist will now head to Europe, where he is scheduled to race in the same event alongside Ben St Lawrence at Round 5 of the IAAF Diamond League in Oslo (NOR).

The Diamond League circuit now moves to Rome, with world and Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson, world championships silver medallist Kim Mickle (javelin) and reigning Commonwealth discus champion Benn Harradine all in action on Thursday (early Friday AEST).

The remaining members of the Commonwealth Games athletics squad will be announced on Thursday.

AAP and Athletics Australia

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