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Stars shine bright in Sydney

15 March 2014

ATHLETICS: An enthralled crowd of almost 5,000 people have been entertained at the Sydney Track Classic tonight, with great racing on track shining alongside outstanding Commonwealth Games A-Standard performances in the field.
Hitting her fourth-best ever mark of 65.18m in the women’s discus, Dani Samuels (NSW) has once again declared to the Commonwealth that she will be the woman to best at Glasgow 2014. Opening her account with her winning performance, the 2009 world champion hit the Commonwealth Games A-Standard on four occasions in her sixthrow series.
Samuels is delighted by her consistency, with a second consecutive performance beyond 65 metres and the fact that she is finding form that suggests she may be capable of a new career best in the near future.
“I’m extremely happy with another throw like that, I’ve only had a handful that big in my career so to be consistently around that mark in 2014 is very reassuring,” Samuels said.
“I’m hoping it’s a sign of things to come in the coming weeks and into the European season. I haven’t had a new personal best since 2010 so it would be great to throw something bigger than 65.84m soon.”
In the women’s pole vault, the reigning Commonwealth champion Alana Boyd (Qld) was the best performer. Her clearance at 4.50m added yet another Commonwealth Games A-Qualifier to her domestic season resume, as Elizabeth Parnov (WA, second, 4.30m) and Vicky Parnov (WA, third, 4.30m) both also staked a claim for Glasgow 2014 by jumping the B-Standard.
The first of the sprint events on the timetable, the men’s 110m hurdles didn’t disappoint, with world champion David Oliver (USA) clocking a world lead of 13.38 (w: +1.0) to edge out local talent Nick Hough (NSW, second, 13.65) and Sam Baines (Vic, third, 13.69).
Oliver was content with his opening race of the season, while Hough and Baines have once again stopped the clock in personal best times below the Commonwealth Games B-Standard for Glasgow 2014. All three will again line up in the sprint hurdles at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge next Saturday 22 March.
“I got soaked on my way to the track tonight, but that doesn’t matter, you can’t help the conditions. I was happy with my time, it was pretty close to what I opened my season with last time I was here and it’s a good warm up for the Melbourne event next week. I’m looking forward to it,” Oliver said.
“It’s a PB by 0.08, it’s a fair chunk of time. I had so much adrenalin on the start line, it’s a bit of a blur. I think I collected a few so there is a bit to work on. I was trying to attack it though and hopefully in the next couple of weeks I find a faster time,” Hough said.
“I trained with David earlier in the week and to learn how he goes about it was amazing. He’s a superstar of my event, and it’s great to race alongside him. I got out well and found it a little scrappy mid-race. It’s a very small PB, just 0.01, but I’ll take it and hope to improve it in good conditions in Melbourne,” Baines said.
The high hurdlers were followed by perhaps the battle of the night, and this time it was Sally Pearson (Qld) who reigned supreme in the women’s 100m, with the Olympic champion and recently crowned IAAF World Indoor Championships silver medallist clocking 11.29 (w: +0.1) to defeat Melissa Breen (ACT, second, 11.40).
Returning to the track a short while later for the women’s 200m, Pearson again was outstanding. Off the bend after a trademark strong start, she was unrivalled on the homestraight and crossed to win in 23.23 (w: +0.4) from the Commonwealth Games B-Qualified Ella Nelson (NSW, second, 23.26).
“I was falling asleep out there, I felt like I had ten bricks on my legs. It is great to run though after missing last season,” Pearson said
“The good thing is to have people pushing me everywhere, it’s such a great boost for us all to have tough competition in every race so that’s a great thing for me and for Australian sprinting.”
The breakthrough of the night came from Georgia Wassall (Vic), who placed secondbehind the world champion Eunice Sum (Vic, first, 2:01.20) in a big personal best and Commonwealth Games B-Qualifying time of 2:01.78.
Fourth-placed at the IAAF World Youth Championships last year, Wassall was thrilled by her performance and now has to consider her options for this year with Glasgow 2014 and the IAAF World Junior Championships now possible teams that she will be selected.
“That’s a massive run, I can’t believe what I was able to execute out there, I am so happy. My training has been going so well and it’s so good to be able to put something together here and show that my hard work has paid off,” Wassall said.

“To be honest I have no idea where to compete this year. This is my first qualifier for Glasgow; I didn’t know it was possible. Now I have to sit down and think about what is better for my career long term and once I have donethat I will know whether the Commonwealth Games or the World Juniors are a better option.”

In the men’s 800m race, Duane Solomon (USA), who placed fourth at the London Olympic Games, won in a time of 1:45.95 with Alex Rowe (Vic, second, 1:46.22) and Jared West (NSW, third, 1:47.04) the next to cross. Both Australians ran Commonwealth Games B-Qualifiers.
Impressive in the men’s para-athletics ambulant 100m was Chad Perris (WA), who made his Australian Flame debut at the IPC Athletics World Championships inLyon (FRA) last year.
Breaking the 11-second barrier for the first time with a new personal best of 10.97 (w: +1.1), Perris’ performance follows a move to the nation’s capital to work the renowned Paralympic coach Iryna Dvoskina.
“It was a close finish and I had no idea what the time was. I can tell that I didn’t think it was a quick as it was so it was so great to go as quick as that. My first sub-11, it’s a good feeling,” Perris said.
“I made the move to Canberra after World Championships last year, and I couldn’t be happier working with Iryna and her team there. It’s a great squad with the likes of Scott Reardon and Evan O’Hanlon and all roads now lead to Rio in 2016.”
In other results:
-    IAAF World Championships silver medallist Mercy Cherono (KEN) was outstanding in the women’s 5000m, eclipsing the previous meet record to deliver resounding win in 15:04.08. Following her across the line was an Australian contingent of Madeleine Heiner (SA, second, 15:27.75), Emily Brichacek (ACT, third, 15:31.49), Kate Spencer (NSW, fourth, 15:32.29), Eloise Wellings (NSW, fifth, 15:35.79) and Jackie Areson (Qld, seventh, 15:45.46), with all times better than the Commonwealth GamesB-Qualifier.
-    The top-three Australian finishers in the men’s javelin threw Commonwealth Games B-Qualifiers. Luke Cann (Vic, 76.71m) won the event, with Matt Outzen (NSW, third, 75.02m) and Ben Baker (NSW, fifth, 72.71m).
-    Sydney-sider Tim Leathart (NSW) made it three-in-a-row in the men’s 100m at the Sydney Track Classic, with the London Olympian and IAAF World Championships representative stopping the clock at 10.29 (w: +0.2) in front of Josaph Miller (NZL, second, 10.39) and Tom Gamble (Qld, third, 10.42).
-    A season best of 46.46 was enough for the national champion Alex Beck (Qld) to win men’s 400m from Joshua Ralph (NSW, second, 46.63) and Dylan Grant (Qld, third, 46.78).
-    Soaring to yet another Commonwealth Games B-Standard, Brooke Stratton (Vic), who is on scholarship at the Victorian Institute of Sport, won the women’s long jump with a mark of 6.46m (w: +0.3) in the final round.
-    Madison de Rozario (WA) won the women’s para-athletics wheelchair 1500m in a time of 3:44.86, from her fellow Paralympians Christie Dawes (NSW, second 3:45.69) and Angela Ballard (NSW, third, 3:50.69).
-    James Magut (KEN) won the men’s 1500m in 3:38.58, from Jeff Riseley (Vic, second, 3:38.90) and Paul Robinson (IRL, third, 3:39.08).
The Australian Athletics Tour now comes to a crescendo at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge next weekend.
Athletics Australia

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