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Solomon superb in windy conditions

6 April 2014

ATHLETICS: Olympic finalist Steve Solomon asserted his supremacy in the 400m, winning in an impressive time of 45.38 in his first outdoor race of the year at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday.

Craig Burns was second in 46.23 ahead of defending champion Alex Beck and 2006 Commonwealth Champion John Steffensen.

"There was a tailwind down the back so the plan was to be really relaxed into that," said Solomon, who missed last year's national titles due to a back injury.

"Coming into the home straight we hit that massive gust.

"It was a good test of my ability to hold strong and I was really happy how I did that."

Olympic champion Sally Pearson overcame the most brutal racing conditions she has experienced in a decade to win a 12th Australian athletics title.

Pearson continued to reassert her supremacy over national 100m record holder Melissa Breen, but the 4.1m per second headwind ruled out the prospect of any fast times and led her to question why the race wasn't conducted in the opposite direction.

Pearson won in 11.70 - more than half a second outside her personal best - with Breen second in 11.90.

Adding to Pearson's frustration was that Tim Leathart won the men's 100m final in 10.58 into a gentle 1.2m headwind just 10 minutes later.

Youngster Morgan Mitchell was a surprise winner of the women's 400m in 52.22 - a time good enough to secure her place in the Commonwealth Games squad.

Joshua Ralph's decision to step up from the 400m to the 800m paid off in a big way as he secured a first national title and a guaranteed spot on the team for Glasgow.

Ralph had the speed to come over the top of Jeff Riseley in the final straight to win in 1:46.57.

World championships semi-finalist Alex Rowe was second and Riseley was third.

"After (the world championships in) Moscow last year I didn't get a run in the 4x400 relay which was heartbreaking," said Ralph.

"I understand why I didn't but I never want to be in that situation again."

World championships finalist Zoe Buckman timed her run perfectly to win the 1500m in 4:10.86.

World junior silver medallist Liz Parnov was a surprise winner of the women's pole vault with 4.20m.

Reigning Commonwealth champion and national record holder Alana Boyd failed to register a clearance, missing all three of her attempts at 4.30m in difficult windy conditions.

Other athletes to book their spots on the team for Glasgow included triple jumper Linda Leverton (13.93m) and steeplechaser Victoria Mitchell (9:42.01).

John Salvado

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