The IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali (COL) are calling for sprint sensation Jack Hale (Tas, 200m), race walker Clara Smith (Qld, 5000m walk), formidable thrower Samantha Peace (NSW, discus) and middle distance charge Annabel McDermott (NSW, 3000m) after they won GOLD in their respective events on day two of competition at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Sydney.
Taking to the start line in the boy’s under 18 200m, Hale set aside the pre-race pressure that comes with being the fastest junior in the country to take line honours from an equally impressive Brandon Herrigan (Qld, second, 21.60) in a time of 21.50 (w: -1.5).
“The first 120 felt really good, but when I came into the last 80 my legs were just gone. I had to just muscle through it because I knew that if I came through for the win that I’d be pretty much on the plane to Colombia, it was on the back of my mind the whole race,” Hale said.
“I’ve had about a week of real training for Nationals, but I can’t say that I was underdone because I was racing plenty earlier on this season. I’ll be honest and say that I was a little bit worried coming out here today, afraid of just dying, so it’s great to come away with this result.”
Proving that there is no rest for the wicked, Hale returned to the track less than an hour later to anchor the boy’s under 20 4x100m relay team to victory in a time of 41.10. Led out by Russell Taib (Tas), the baton moved to Jesse Usoalii (Tas) and Jacob Despard (Tas) for the second and third leg before Hale stormed up the straight to take the win.
Hale will now shift his attention to the Selection Trial for the 100m this coming Sunday and he will likely start as favourite following the withdrawal of Sydney-based talent Jordan Shelley (NSW). Herrigan, meanwhile, is back on track tomorrow for the final of the boy’s 110m hurdles final, where, with two qualifiers already under his belt, he can ensure his automatic selection by taking the victory.
Smith was forced to wait overnight for her girl’s under 18 5000m walk after a severe thunderstorm at Sydney Olympic Park forced its rescheduling to early this morning.
Trailing the early leader Jemima Montag (Vic, second, 24:10.16) for much of the opening stages of the race, Smith made her move to the front with just shy of one kilometre to go as Montag battled dehydration that saw her collapse at the finish line. Smith built her move into a very strong lead, with the 17-year-old, who is coached by Dave Smith, crossing to win in a meet record time of 23:08.42.
Competing in the girl’s under 18 discus throw, Peace boasted five qualifiers for Cali 2015 before the start of competition here at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships. She opened her six throw series with 44.08m, before a 41.86m mark in round two, 43.89m, her winning mark in round four, 44.20m and 44.13m to close. The silver medal was won by Bianca Hansen (Vic, 45.87m) and Kristina Moore (NSW, 45.58m) the bronze.
Nervous before the start of her race, McDermott took control of the girl’s under 18 3000m after no other athletes in the lead pack made a commitment to setting the pace. Extending her margin at the front to a big lead, the 17-year-old, who is coached by James Fitzgerald, took line honours in a time of 9:36.12.
The performance ensures her first Australian selection, and with Cali 2015 now on the horizon she hopes to keep building toward a new personal best at the IAAF World Youth Championships.
“The plan was to stick behind the pack and then go when I thought that I could, but no one really took the pace on so I just went for it. It was all a bit confusing at first but it turned out great. I felt the pressure with one girl already having the qualifier and a few other girls very close to it. I’m glad that it turned out as well as it did,” McDermott said.
“I just want to PB over there now. Take in the experience, have a good time and improve from there. I’m very excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
In other highlights from day two of the Australian Junior Athletics Championships:
- Two-time IAAF World Youth Championships medallist Matthew Denny (Qld) improved on his own national under 20 discus record to take gold with a best mark of 63.21m. The silver medal was won Jimmy Gordon (Qld, 53.48m).
- Danielle Shaw (Vic) clocked 13.70 (w: -0.8) in her first round race for the girl’s under 18 100m hurdles. The performance is her second qualifier for Cali 2015 and she will be automatically selected if she wins the final tomorrow.
- IPC Athletics World Championships representative Carly Salmon (NSW) won the girl’s under 20 para-athletics 200m in a strong time of 35.84. Salmon has cerebral palsy. The men’s race was won by the short-statured Rohan Bright (NSW) in a time of 36.90.
- Soaring over 1.79m to win Australian championship gold in the girl’s under 18 high jump, Clare Gibson (WA) staked her initial claim for selection to the IAAF World Youth Championships with her maiden qualifier. She will compete again in the under 20 event on Sunday in an attempt to secure her second qualifying mark and selection to the Australian team.
- IAAF World Junior Championships heptathlete Alysha Burnett (NSW) reigned supreme in the girl’s under 20 long jump with a leap of 5.95m (w: +1.7), while Youth Olympian Shemaiah James (Qld) soared to 7.54m (w: +0.4) with his first leap to win the boy’s event.
- Clocking 46.41, Gabriella O’Grady (NSW), Sam Geddes (NSW), Katrina Hunt (NSW) and Kyla King (NSW) combined to win the girl’s under 20 4x100m relay from Victoria (second, 47.41) and Queensland (third, 48.00).
Today’s competition followed an interrupted day one of competition yesterday afternoon, with Phillipa Hajdasz (Vic) becoming the first automatic selection in the pole vault for the IAAF World Youth Championships and Brayden Davidson (SA) soaring to a new personal best to win the boy’s under 20 para-athletics long jump.
Hajdasz entered the competition at 3.40m and made only one clearance at that height before the weather saw her event cancelled. Laying claim to two qualifiers for Cali 2015 prior to the start of competition, the 17-year-old ensured her spot on the Australian team by being declared the equal winner alongside Imogen Ayris (NZL, 3.40m), with Elizabeth Baral (NSW, second, 3.25m) winning silver Lauren Hyde-Cooling (WA, third, bronze).
Competing in impressive sunshine before the clouds rolled in, Davidson’s performance was outstanding. Soaring to 5.39m to win the para-athletics long jump, the cerebral palsy class athlete’s performance was not only a personal best, but also an A-Qualifier for the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha (QAT) later this year and only five centimetres shy of the world record for his T36 class.
“I’m very excited. That was the best jump. I haven’t jumped anywhere near that since the All Schools last year, and it was a consistent competition too which is what you want,” Davidson said.
“It gives me so much confidence for World Championships. It’s the best jump this year and the third biggest ever jump for my classification so it’s great. The other boys in my event are a fair bit of older than me so I feel like I’m still chasing them a bit but to have a similar performance to what they’ve done is great.
Nina Kennedy (WA) headlines competition on Friday 13 March, with the world junior outdoor best performer set to start in the girl’s under 20 pole vault alongside her IAAF World Junior Championships Nina Kennedy teammate Emma Philippe (WA).
Saturday 14 March brings the first of two Australian Athletics Tour Finals to the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.
Arguably headlined by the men’s 800m, where world record holder David Rudisha (KEN) will duel with the equal fastest ever Australian Alex Rowe (Vic), the jam-packed program also includes national record holder Melissa Breen (ACT) versus Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld) in the women’s short sprints, Commonwealth Games finalist Jeff Riseley (Vic) on track alongside Ryan Gregson (NSW), Andrew Wheating (USA) and Jeff See (USA) for the men’s 1500m, the Commonwealth champion Dani Samuels (NSW) in the women’s discus throw, and no less than 34 other green and gold charges from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
For more information on the Australian Junior Athletics Championships, including the event timetable, entry lists and live results, please click here.
For more information on the Sydney Track Classic, which doubles as the first of two Australian Athletics Tour Finals, which will be held on Saturday 14 March, please click here.