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Triple athletics gold on Day 9

2 August 2014

COMM GAMES ATHLETICS: Australia has won three gold medals with Dani Samuels (NSW) dominating the women’s discus, teenage sensation Eleanor Patterson (Vic) winning the women’s high jump and Olympic champion Sally Pearson(Qld) putting behind her a tumultuous week to defend her women’s 100m hurdles crown. 

Pearson got off to a brilliant start in her final and was never headed as she showed herself to be in a class above her opposition. She won in a time of 12.67 (wind -0.1) ahead of English rival Tiffany Porter, who clocked 12.80 to take silver. 

The win ensured Pearson defended the Commonwealth hurdles title she won four years ago in Delhi (IND) and was clearly a massive relief after a difficult preparation period.

“The feeling is there’s happiness and excitement but the weight just comes off your shoulders and you stop hearing your heart beat all day, every day, all night,” an ecstatic Pearson said after the race. “That’s just the best feeling in the world.

“As an athlete, any event that you do, any sport that you do, you have to hold that (emotion) inside you and it feels like it’s going to explode. That’s what happens when you get out of those blocks. Your emotion just pours into the race and when you cross over that finish line you know that everything you’ve done, everything you’ve planned for, has come together. It’s just … ‘yes’! It’s great!”

Michelle Jenneke (NSW) also finished fifth in the women’s 100m hurdles Final in 13.36 whileShannon McCann (WA) placed eighth in 13.60.

18-year-old Eleanor Patterson (Vic) took gold in the Women’s High Jump Final after recording a first round clearance at 1.94m.  Patterson was the only athlete to make that height, sailing over it on her first attempt.

In a consummate display of jumping that belied her youth, Patterson passed the first few heights before entering the competition at 1.86m and promptly clearing it on her first attempt.  She was also perfect at 1.89m before a first try miss at 1.92m saw her fall behind Englishwoman Isobel Pooley, who managed a first-time clearance, on a countback. 

Patterson answered back by promptly clearing 1.94m on her first attempt to take the lead. With neither Pooley nor Lavern Spencer of Saint Lucia able improve on their 1.92m makes, Patterson secured the gold. The girl from Leongatha had three good attempts at 1.96m but couldn’t clear them, yet it didn’t matter as she already had the Commonwealth title firmly in her pocket. It was the first time since 1994 that Australia had won gold in the women’s high jump.

“I’m happy with the gold, for sure,” Patterson said. “I didn’t realise, because Lavern Spencer passed and I didn’t realise I had it and then my coach was telling me that I’d won and I was like ‘what … no!’

“It’s been an amazing experience. It’s so new but so amazing. It’s huge.  It’s so much bigger than what I’d experienced before but I just had to stay calm and managed to pull through.”

Fellow Australian Hannah Joye (Qld) cleared an equal personal best height of 1.89m to claim sixth in the women’s high jump final, while Zoe Timmers (WA) cleared 1.78m to finish equal tenth.

In the women’s discus final, Samuels simply dominated the competition.  Her opening throw of 62.30m would have been good enough to win the competition as she signaled her intentions right from the start. After a second round throw of 61.45m, she improved her lead further in Round Three as she hurled the discus out to her competition-winning distance of 64.88m. Her remaining three throws were 60.18m, a foul and 61.72m but by then she already had the gold medal around her neck. She won by over three metres from Seema Punia of India, who threw a season’s best of 61.61m to claim silver.

“I felt fantastic and I feel so, so proud that I’ve won my first Commonwealth Games gold medal,” Samuels reflected. “I was happy with my eventual result, 64.88, and was just trying to build on each throw. The crowd is absolutely amazing. There are so many Australian flags and faces and uniforms out there, it’s so good.

“Something I’ve been working on has been consistency, and that’s really important coming into championships. Qualifying last night and the first three for the final as well, it’s really important to perform within three throws and I am comfortable enough to say I can do that now and I can reach the autos.”

Taryn Gollshewsky (Qld) threw 53.04m in the women’s discus final to finish in ninth place, while Christie Chamberlain (NSW) was tenth with a best throw of 52.61m.

In the men’s 1500m, Jeff Riseley (Vic) showed that running the 800m clearly hadn’t taken too much out of him as he stormed home to take second in his heat in 3:40.79 to automatically advance to the Final on Saturday night.  Fellow middle distance runner Ryan Gregson (NSW) ran seventh in his heat in 3:41.91 but he just missed out on a berth in the Final. Collis Birmingham (Vic) had also been slated to run but was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring problem.

In the heats of the men’s 4x400m relay, the Australian women’s team of Anneliese Rubie (NSW),Caitlin Sargent (Qld), Jess Gulli (Vic) and Lyndsay Pekin (WA) ensured they advanced by finishing second in their heat in a time of 3:32.40. 

The men’s 4x400m team of John Steffensen (NSW), Alex Beck (Qld), Craig Burns (Qld) and Ian Dewhurst (NSW) also advanced to the final.  The team finished in a time of 3:05.41 in third place in their heat but their result was upgraded to second after three teams were disqualified. That gave them one of the automatic qualifying spots and ensured the team would run again on Saturday in the Final.

Joel Pocklington (Vic) finished in seventh position in the men’s Pole Vault Final after successfully clearing 5.20m while Matthew Boyd (Qld) registered a ‘no height’ after failing to get over the opening height of 4.80m.

In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase Final James Nipperess (NSW) finished in ninth place in a time of 9:16.76.

Meanwhile, in the men’s 10,000m Final Ben St Lawrence (NSW) ran 28:49.41 to finish 16th and Harry Summers (NSW) clocked 29:00.56 to take 18th.

Hamish Peacock (Tas) got Australia’s men’s javelin throwers off to a great start, reaching 79.08m to comfortably surpass the automatic qualification standard of 78.00m and earn a place in the Final on Saturday. Throwing in the second pool, Luke Cann (Vic) and Josh Robinson (Qld) also both threw auto-qualifiers. Cann sailed out a new personal best of 79.36m on his first attempt and Robinson ensured all three Australians would get through by hitting 78.32m on his second round throw.

Australian women’s 4x100m relay team of Melissa Breen (ACT), Ashleigh Whittaker (Vic),Ella Nelson (NSW) and Michelle Cutmore (Qld) finished second in their heat in the time 44.45 to ensure they earned a place in Saturday’s Final.

The Australian men’s 4x100m team of Nicholas Hough (NSW), Jarrod Geddes (NSW), Jake Hammond (NSW) and Tim Leathart (NSW) crossed the line in third place in the time of 39.66 in their heat but were subsequently disqualified for being outside the box on the second change.


Aussies just miss podium as Pearson fires in qualifying - Day 8 wrap 

COMM GAMES ATHLETICS: The Australian track and field team has finished just off the podium in Olympic events on day 8 of Glasgow 2014. There were some outstanding performances, some disappointment and plenty to get excited about for the day 9 finals. 

Thrower Benn Harradine (Qld) has finished just outside the medals, placing fourth in the men’s Discus Throw Final.  As competitors struggled to come to terms with the slippery conditions in the circle, Harradine had a best throw of 61.91m to finish just 43cm behind bronze medallist Jason Morgan of Jamaica, who threw 62.34m.  

Harradine, the Australian men’s discus throw record holder, ensured a top-eight finish and that he would have the maximum six throws when his first attempt reached 59.81m. That was good enough to rank him fifth after three rounds and he then improved to 60.33m in Round Four as the rain started to pour down.  He fouled his fifth attempt before hurling the platter 61.91m on his final throw in a desperate attempt to get into the medals. It moved him into fourth but ultimately Harradine couldn’t overtake the Jamaican. The event was won by Vikas Shive Gowda of India with a distance of 63.64m.    

Australia’s other competitor in the men’s discus final, Julian Wruck (Qld), managed a best throw of 58.37m in Round Three but it wasn’t enough for the top eight placing he required to earn another three throws and he finished in ninth place. 

Middle distance runner Jeff Riseley (Vic) was a late addition to the men’s 800m final but he made the most of his opportunity to come tantalisingly close to grabbing a medal in one of the best events of the night. Riseley made a strong surge down the home straight to be in bronze medal position with 60 metres to run. Whilst he ultimately finished in fifth place in 1:46.12, he was just 0.08 seconds behind the bronze medallist, Andre Olivier of South Africa (1:46.03). The race for the gold medal was a battle to the line between David Rudisha (KEN) and Nijel Amos (BOT) with the Botswanan delivering the upset of the meet to win in 1:45.18. 

“I was just trying to get my body over the line and practicing my sprinter dip,” Riseley said of the exciting finish. “It’s bittersweet, being so close, but it’s also kind of disappointing obviously. 

“This whole champs is about proving to myself that I belong here.” 

Lauren Wells (ACT) represented Australia in the women’s 400m Hurdles Final and was also close to winning a medal, coming in fourth in 56.09. The same position she achieved four years ago in Delhi. 

In the women’s Long Jump Final Margaret Gayen (SA) finished in sixth place with her best leap of 6.34m (+1.3) behind third-place getter Jenieve Russell of Jamaica who ran 55.64 

In the Women’s 200m, Ella Nelson (NSW) came sixth in her Semi-Final in 23.50 (wind -1.1) behind 100m champion Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria in 22.43.  Ash Whittaker (Vic) later ran 24.49 (wind +0.4) in her Semi-Final but neither Australian could advance to the Final, which was won by Okagbare in 22.25 (+0.4). 

Brittany McGowan (Qld) ran courageously in her 800m women’s Semi-Final and put herself in a position to challenge with one lap to go but tired to finish eighth in 2:08.79. 

In the women’s Discus Throw Qualifying, all three Australians have advanced to the final. Former World Champion Dani Samuels (NSW) cruised through qualifying, needing just one throw to beat the automatic advancement mark of 57.00m. Samuels threw her one attempt almost six metres further than any other competitor, reaching 64.53m. Taryn Gollshewsky (Qld) set a new personal best of 58.24m to reach the automatic qualification standard as well, one of just five athletes to do so. She finished the qualifying round ranked third.  Christie Chamberlain (NSW) also advanced to tomorrow’s final, with her best throw of 52.46m ranking her 10th

London OIympic champion and Australian athletics team captain Sally Pearson (Qld) put a tumultuous week behind her to register her fastest time since arriving in Europe (12.69) in winning her heat of the women’s 100m hurdles. Pearson was almost a full flight clear of her nearest competitor, and clocked the fastest time of any of the heats. She was a full 0.15 faster than the woman most expect to be her main challenger, Tiffany Porter of England who ran 12.84 (+0.7). 

“I was really nervous out there,” Pearson said.  “I treated it like a final because for me it is just another race. 

“It was such relief. My time has come down from 13-whatever, let’s not even go there. Thank goodness. It’s coming together. Training, working hard, more races than I wanted. I’m in a really good position, my headspace is good and it was great to get the heat out of the way.” 

Pearson’s teammates Shannon McCann (WA) and Michelle Jenneke (NSW) have also both advanced to Friday’s final. McCann finished second in her heat in the time of 13.34 (-0.4) to earn an automatic berth in the final,  while Jenneke finished in fourth place in her heat but advanced on her time of 13.33 (+0.7).

The athletics competition concludes in Glasgow on Saturday night (local time). 

Athletics Australia Release edited to include Olympic events only

Mickle wins Games gold in javelin - Day 7 wrap

COMM GAMES ATHLETICS: Australian Kim Mickle has claimed gold in the women's javelin at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Mickle won her first Commonwealth title with a Games record throw of 65.96m, relegating two-time defending champion Sunette Viljoen from South Africa to the silver medal position with 63.19m.

Young Australian Kelsey-Lee Roberts saved her best for last, throwing 62.95m in the sixth round to claim the bronze medal.

The third Australian competitor, Kathryn Mitchell, was fourth.

Since the crushing disappointment of missing the final at the London Olympics, Mickle has become one of the most consistently successful athletes in world track and field.

The 29-year-old from Perth claimed the silver medal at last year's world championships in Moscow and fully justified her outright favouritism at the Glasgow Games.

Mickle was also the runner-up to Viljoen at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Australia has historically dominated the women's javelin at Commonwealth level, with Mickle the seventh to earn the gold medal.

Mickle claimed the national record with a throw of 66.83m in March, surpassing the previous mark set by 1994 and 1998 Commonwealth Games champion Louise Currey.

Apart from the javelin, there were a flood of fourths for Australia at Hampden Park on Wednesday night.

Defending champion Fabrice Lapierre strained a hamstring in the first round of the men's long jump.

But after sitting out the next two jumps, Lapierre gritted his teeth and returned to the competition.

His best leap of 8.00m came in the first round as he finished just out of the medals.

Englishman Greg Rutherford - who denied Australian Mitchell Watt the Olympic title in London two years ago - won gold with 8.20m.

Madeline Heiner and Genevieve LaCaze took the battle up to the all-conquering Kenyans in the women's 3000m steeplechase.

Purity Kirui led a Kenyan medal sweep, with Heiner and LaCaze crossing the line in fourth and fifth places respectively, with both recording personal bests.

Youngster Sophie Stanwell racked up a personal best tally of 5754 points to finish fourth in the heptathlon.

Stanwell was one of the few Australians to offer words of support to suspended head coach Eric Hollingsworth, saying his background as a decathlete had been a big help to her.

Jeff Riseley looked to have missed a berth in the 800m final in the worst possible way after being shoved across two lanes by Canadian opponent Brandon MacBride with one lap to run.

Riseley recovered well enough to finish a close fifth, although his semi-final time would have seen him just miss out on a spot in Thursday's title race.

But before Riseley had a chance to appeal, the race referee reviewed the footage and decided the interference was so severe that he had to be added to the field for the final. 

John Salvado
AAP

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