The fifth and final day of the 2018 Australian Junior Athletics Championships saw competition that was just as hot as the weather with temperatures soaring into the high 30s.
Zane Branco (Qld) set a new meet record in the U20 men’s 200m, powering across the finish line in a time of 20.68 (w1.5) to win the gold medal in a personal best. The blistering time earned Branco an automatic qualification for the IAAF U20 World Championships and was just 0.2sec off the national U20 record set by Fred Martin in 1985.
Fellow Queenslander Jack Geary finished with the silver medal while Harrison Hunt (SA) took the bronze.
“I’m stoked with the run,” said Branco. “It was a great field out there today. I’m proud of Jack, he came out and ran a nice season’s best [21.33]. The conditions were great; it was a good time to be out there running. I owe it all to my coach, my parents and my physio for their endless love and support.”
In the U20 women’s 200m heats, Nana Owusu-Afriyie (Vic) set a world junior qualifying time of 23.89 (w0.1) to draw the middle lane for the afternoon’s final. Later, fellow Victorian Mia Gross took out the final in 23.41, with a whopping 4.1 tailwind. Owusu-Afriyie claimed the silver medal in 23.63.
In the U18 women’s 1500m Jaylah Hancock-Cameron (NSW) set a new meet record of 4:19.21 and was well within the Youth Olympic Games qualifying mark.
The win backed up her silver medal in the 800m event earlier in the championships.
In second place, Melany Smart (WA) also posted a qualifier with her time of 4:22.18.
In the field for the U18 men’s high jump, Oscar Miers (Qld) secured a Youth Olympic Games qualifier with his gold medal-winning performance of 2.14m. The U20 women’s high jump was drama-packed, with Emily Whelan (NSW) eventually claiming the gold medal with her leap of 1.79m. Whelan’s win was only secured after a tense jump-off with Paige Wilson (NSW).
Meantime, Rochelle Vidler (Qld) scored a Youth Olympic Games qualification mark with her throw of 62.79m in the women’s hammer.
Sophie White’s excellent championships continued, with the West Australian backing up her gold medal and equal Australian record with Sally Pearson in the U18 women’s 100m hurdles with victory in the 100m sprint.
White was the fastest qualifier in the preliminary rounds, setting a new PB of 11.79 (w1.3) before improving again in the final. With medals on the line, White was first across the line in a time of 11.61 (w1.2) with Queensland’s Stephanie Welsh earning the silver with her time of 11.85. Both White and Welsh earned Youth Olympic Games qualifiers with their results.
“I wasn’t expecting to get a PB again in the final,” admitted White. “In this heat, I couldn’t feel my legs at the start; I thought ‘this will be interesting’, but I’m very pleased.”
The U18 men’s 100m saw Edward Nkeita (ACT) claim the win in a time of 10.52 (w0.8) ahead of NSW’s Godwin Opoku-Mensah (10.62) and Matthew Otto (10.66) – the minor placings both in Youth Olympic Games qualifying times.
Victoria’s Mietta Russell claimed a meet record with her victory in the U17 women’s 100m final in 11.65 (w2.5).
A fast U20 800m win earned Carley Thomas (NSW) her ticket to Finland for the world championships, and in the men’s event, Lachlan Raper (NSW) was able to secure his start courtesy of a previous qualifying time after falling just short in the final.
Full results can be found here.
The NSW Government is proud to support the Australian Junior Athletics Championships through Destination NSW, Sydney Olympic Park Authority and the Office of Sport.