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An outstanding four days of athletics has launched at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne, with para-athlete Jayden Sawyer (ACT) the first gold medallist at the 92nd Australian Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games Selection Trials.
Launching the spear an impressive 42.58m to win his second national crown after debuting for Australia at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships, Sawyer’sperformance in the men’s para-athletics ambulant javelin was but one of many highlights from day one.
Jodi Elkington (NSW) and Paul Raison (SA) ensured their automatic nomination for selection tocompete at the Commonwealth Games and Moscow 2013 starters Steve Solomon (NSW, 400m), Craig Burns (Qld, 400m), Alex Beck(Qld, 400m), Caitlin Sargent (Qld, 400m) Josh Ralph (NSW, 800m), Alex Rowe (Vic, 800m) and Zoe Buckman (Vic, 1500m) all progressed to the next round of competition.
Competing in a combined class para-athletics final, Elkington’s best jump of 4.19m for her T37 cerebral palsy class was enough to win overall ambulant gold and ensure her nomination to the Australian Commonwealth Games Association to compete in the F37/38 para-athletics long jump in Glasgow.
The performance delivers a second appearance on the world stage, after she debuted in the short sprints at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch (NZL).
“I’m so chuffed to be the first person nominated. It’s a bit of an honour on top of an already great achievement. I’m stoked, but it is a bit of a relief if I am going to be honest because in my opinion of my performance I think I have a bit to work on still,” Elkington said.
“Looking at the field before competing today I was quietly confident that I could beat many of the girls out there. You have to do it on the day though and I am glad that I did. It’s a good confidence boost ahead of Glasgow.
“Plenty to work on though, I have to probably move my run up a little bit and make sure that I keep my head up approaching the board. It’s all things that I know I have been doing wrong but I wanted to win here and then focus on the technical side of things to make sure it is right to go come Commonwealth Games.
The winner of the silver medal in the men’s para-athletics ambulant discus throw behind IPC Athletics World Championships medallist Guy Henly (NSW), Raison’s best mark of 44.45m is well beyond the required A-Standard for the F42/44 javelin at the Commonwealth Games and more than enough to ensure his nomination for selection.
A men’s 400m finalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Solomon competed in the last of the five heats of the one-lap race and he exerted little effort to move through to the semi-finals tomorrow. The IAAF World Junior Championships bronze medallist and two-time national champion stopped the clock in 47.58, with his time the fourth fastest to move through behind his Australian Flame relay teammate Burns, who clocked 47.01 to win his heat strongly.
Beck placed second behind New Zealander Tama Toki in heat one to progress, with 2006 Commonwealth champion John Steffensen (NSW, 47.52), Delhi 2010 silver medallist Sean Wroe (Vic, 48.05) and IAAF World Junior Championships bound James Kermond (NSW, 48.13) also amongst the qualifiers.
“The goal was to get through the rounds as efficiently as possible and I think I did that,” Solomon said.
“I was really happy how I felt out there. Hopefully I can go back now, recoverwell, and come out tomorrow to progress to the final without too much effort. I’m pretty happy with the time today too. It’s a good sign.”
In the women’s event, IAAF World Championships semi-finalist Caitlin Sargent (Qld) won heat one in 54.04 to qualify second fastest behind Morgan Mitchell (Vic, 53.97).
Ralph and Rowe, together with London 2012 1500m semi-finalist Jeff Riseley (Vic), all won their heat of the men’s 800m to ensure a tantalising final.
A confident winner in the first heat, the Commonwealth Games A-Qualified Ralph crossed in 1:49.43 to progress comfortably ahead of the second placed Peter Bol (WA, 1:49.98), while Riseley, who also has an A-Qualifier, was unchallenged in the second heat to cross and win in 1:49.43. The reigning national champion Rowe clocked 1:49.64 to win the last of the qualificationevents, with the Australian Flame debutant from last year’s IAAF World Championships needing victory in the final to ensure his automatic nomination for selection.
IAAF World Championships finalist Buckman rounded out the Australian Flame who advanced with ease when she ran 4:20.47 to qualify fastest for the final of the women’s 1500m. She will be joined in the final by London Olympian Kaila McKnight (Vic) and the Commonwealth Games B-Qualified Melissa Duncan (Vic), with the duo stopping the clock in 4:21.91 and 4:23.49 to auto-advance from the other heat.
In other highlights:
- Deon Kenzie (Tas), who competed for the Australian Flame at the IPC Athletics World Championships and has cerebral palsy, won the men’s ambulant 800m for para-athletes in a time of 2:07.90 from Paul Gilbert (WA, second) and Jaryd Clifford (Vic, third).
- The Commonwealth Games B-Qualified Lara Neilsen (Qld) and Gabrielle Neighbour (Vic) advanced to the final of the women’s hammer throw with the top-two throws of 58.22m and 58.88m respectively.
- Linda Leverton (Qld) auto-advanced to the final of the women’s triple jump after she soared 13.16m (w: +0.4) on first attempt in Group 1 of the Qualification Round. Victory in the final will ensure her automatic nomination for selection to Glasgow 2014.
The second day of competition at Lakeside Stadium commences at 9:00am AEDST tomorrow, with IAAF World Championships silver medallist Kim Mickle (WA) and her fellow Commonwealth Games A-Qualified Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) set to compete in the qualification round of the women’s javelin.
Tickets to the 92nd Australian Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games Selection Trials are not pre-sold. All tickets will be sold ‘on the gate’ at Lakeside Stadium on each of the four days of competition.
The final timetable and entry lists for the 92nd Australian Athletics Championships, the last event on the 2014 National Athletics Series, are available for download by clicking here.
Please note that the entry lists are subject to change, and that events will be seeded into heats and qualification groups closer to the commencement of competition.
Commonwealth Games Qualification Status
The Athletics Australia High Performance Department has prepared two documents that detail the Qualification Status of all athletes who have nominated for selection to the Australian team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games (excluding10,000m, marathon, relays and multi-events).
These documents, which are split into male athletes and female athletes, have been designed to highlight which athletes have achieved a qualification standard, and provide guidance on the stages of the selection process that they can be considered for nomination according to the 2014 Commonwealth Games Selection Policy, which is available for download here.
Please note that athletes who have not yet nominated for selection are not included in these documents.