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More records add to podium from IAAF World Relays

26 May 2014

ATHLETICS: Australia set a brace of national endurance relay records and claimed two battling fourth place finishes on the final day of the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas. These fantastic efforts followed a bronze medal on Day 1 and ensured an overall placing of fifth for Australia in the team standings. 

Leading the way was the men’s 4x1500m team of Ryan Gregson (NSW, 3:39.1), Sam McEntee (WA, 3:44.9), Collis Birmingham (VIC, 3:38.3) and Jordan Willamsz (VIC, 3:43.7), who produced an epic effort to record a time of 14:46.04 and trim 0.88 from the previous best Australian mark.

McEntee handed the baton on to Birmingham in fourth some 30m down on the third leg Ethiopian runner. However, the experienced Birmingham refused to panic and after a storming leg handed the baton to Willamsz on anchor some 5m clear in third.

Williamsz, who also competed in yesterday’s men’s 4x800m, produced a brave run but he could not maintain third spot up against Aman Wote (ETH), who had set an Ethiopian record of 3:30.86 in Doha (QAT) earlier this month. The African caught and then glided past the American-based Australian just before the halfway point on the anchor leg before securing the third and final podium spot.

“I was a little tired after yesterday but I had to focus on the task at hand, but I thought I executed well,” Williamsz explained. 

“It would have been great to have finished third, but I had to manage my expectations and do the best job I could do. World Relays has been a great experience. I’ve got to spend time with Collis Birmingham and Ryan Gregson and I hope to spend a lot more time with them in future.”

Out front, Kenya set a world record 14:22.22 to finish clear of the USA and Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, three quarters of the women’s 4x1500mteam, which had claimed a podium spot to finish third the previous day, returned with the addition of Selma Kajan (NSW) to shatter the national record in the women’s 4x800m. The team performed above expectations up against a stellar field to place fourth with Brittany McGowan (QLD, 2:03.1), Zoe Buckman (VIC, 2:02.1), Kajan (2:02.2) and Melissa Duncan (VIC, 2:05.8) combining to run 8:13.26 behind the heavyweight trio of the USA, Kenya and Russia.

The women’s 4x800m team also performed with pride to offer further evidence of the strength in depth of Australian middle-distance running.

Buckman said it was great to “smash” the national record and added: “It shows we can compete with the best in the world. Hopefully we can help inspire other younger athletes to train hard.”

“I was on fresh legs and tried to race as hard as I could. It was a great atmosphere, although I really wish they could have been a Bahamas team in the 4x800m because it would have added something extra,” Kajan added.

The Australian women’s 4x400m team ended their campaign on a high as they blitzed to a morale-boosting victory in the B-Final in a time of 3:31.01. With a reshuffled order from yesterday’s heats the quartet of Anneliese Rubie (NSW, 52.60) Morgan Mitchell (VIC, 52.10), Jessica Gulli (VIC, 53.50) and Lyndsay Pekin (WA, 52.80) produced a mature performance amid a raucous atmosphere inside the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau, to repel the challenge from Bahamas (3:31.71). 

The performance ranked Australia ninth overall in the women’s 4x400m, which is encouraging form ahead of July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (SCO).

A quartet of Craig Burns (QLD), Dylan Grant (QLDS), Joshua Ralph (NSW) and Alex Beck (QLD) placed fifth in the men’s 4x400m B-Final to place 13th overall. Burns produced a blistering first leg of 45.90 to give the Aussie foursome a lead at quarter distance, but they could not maintain their advantage and registered a time of 3:04.61 – 0.03 quicker than in yesterday’s heats.

There was disappointment for the men’s 4x100m team as a baton mishap on the second exchange led to an unfortunate DNF in the B-Final for the youthful sprint quartet.

Australia completed an excellent all-round performance at the inaugural competition – which took place in front of a passionate and colourful home crowd – to place fifth with 21pts in the team standings behind the USA, Jamaica, Kenya and Great Britain.

Athletics Australia