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2018 Wrap Up: September successes and a new Aussie G.O.A.T

21 December 2018

AOC: September was full of success for Aussie athletes, with world-first achievements and one of our own being named the "Greatest of all time."

First up, history was made at the US Open, with Rio Olympian John Millman taking down tennis juggernaut Roger Federer to reach the quarterfinals and Ash Barty winning her first Grand Slam title.

It was a come-from-behind victory against the world No.2 that etched 29-year-old Millman into the history books.

"I felt like a bit of a deer in headlights to begin with, to be honest with you. The feet weren’t moving, Roger had it on a string, he was manipulating me around the court,” Millman said.

“But I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet and started to be a little bit more aggressive."

“I’m probably in a bit of disbelief. I have so much respect for Roger and everything he’s done for the game, he’s been a hero of mine,” the stunned Queenslander said.

Millman faced world No.1, Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal, where his campaign ended, going down to the Serbian 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Ash Barty claimed her first Grand Slam title, teaming up with American CoCo Vandeweghe to win a thrilling US Open women’s doubles final.

“Obviously we’ve only played a handful of tournaments together this year, but we’ve had pretty good success right from the get-go,” Barty said.

“The last fortnight has been really fun on and off the court. We’ve been relaxed. We were very hungry to go as deep as we could. It was really nice to be able to play a pretty clean tournament.”

Barty also won the US Open Sportsmanship Award, recognising excellence in sportsmanship during the American lead-up events and the final Grand Slam of the season.

Quadruple Olympian, Sam Stosur, along with her team mate Shuai Zhang bowed out in the US Open women’s doubles semifinals to Tímea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic 4-6 6-7(4). 

The Aussie team also smashed it out of the water, with several water sports claiming victory in September.

Arguably one of Australia’s most successful athletes of 2018, Jessica Fox topped off her season with her sixth individual Canoe Slalom title, cementing her as the most successful individual paddler in the history of the sport and official G.O.A.T.

In Water polo, the Aussie Sharks earned Australia’s best ever result at the 2018 FINA World Cup taking out silver, while the Aussie Stingers claimed bronze for the women.

The Aussie Men’s Four claimed back-to-back World Championships in Bulgaria, while the Women’s Four and Men’s Quadruple Scull claimed silver.

The Men’s and Women’s Eights claimed silver and bronze, the first medals for Australian Eights since 2010 and 2006 respectively.

In total, Australia’s rowers bragged an incredible 33 medallists in total across the 2018 World Championships, with the Aussies claiming two back-to-back World Championship titles, along with four silver and one bronze medal.

Australia’s sailors also backed it up, with Nacra 17 duo and Rio 2016 silver medallists, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin claiming gold at the Tokyo 2020 Test Event at Enoshima in Japan.

Mens Four Rowing

On the sand, dynamic Beach Volleyball duo, Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar topped off their stellar season adding two awards to their stash of FIVB World Tour medals.

Clancy was honoured with “Best Server,” while Artacho del Solar took out the “Most Improved Player,” award - the first awards received by an Australian women’s player on the tour since Louise Bawden won the “Top Rookie” award in 2009.

Artacho Del Solar said the secret to their incredible success was the connection the team mates have.

“From the beginning, we had a natural connection. The trust and belief we have in each other is so strong, which makes it much easier to just focus on playing. We’re both on the same page, competitive and always want to win.”

Along with their four FIVB World Tour gold medals, the team was able to finish their first season together with a 77% win ratio and the most titles ever won by any Australian beach volleyball team (4 World Tour and 2 Asian Tour titles).

In athletics, it was an epic sprint finish that secured Ashleigh Gentle her World Triathlon Grand Final gold, while Jake Birtwhistle became the second Australian in almost a decade to finish on the overall ITU Series podium.

“From the swim, I had to fight for my position the whole time; it felt like it was a six foot swell out there in the Broadwater; it was very choppy and I guess people thought that’s not a place where I would swim well but I did,” Gentle said.

“I had to get myself back in contention; I was really happy I could stay safe on the bike too; I don’t know what it looked like on the screens but it was really windy out there. There were corners where we were all fighting for position; it was a huge pack and if you dropped back outside the top ten it was really dangerous.

“I definitely had plenty of Aussie suits around me on the bike, particularly Emma Jeffcoat who did a great job and put in a massive surge on the bike to bring the chase pack up to give me a chance to produce the run I knew I was capable of,” the Rio Olympian finished.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Birtwhistle said,

“Coming into today, the number one goal was to remain on that podium for the Series and I kept fighting for every position I could, and thankfully I was able to manage that.”

Equestrian also made their intentions known, bagging an Eventing Team quota for Tokyo 2020.

The group ended the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tyron with a total score of 135.8, putting them in sixth place for the competition and with a spot at Tokyo 2020.

In Cycling, Rohan Dennis added his name to the record books with a storming ride to claim his maiden individual time trial world title at the 2018 UCI World Championships in Austria.

‘‘I can’t really explain it. It’s an amazing feeling, it is a dream come true," said the Adelaide cyclist who becomes just the second Australian to win the event after Michael Rogers' three consecutive titles between 2003 and 2005.

“I've never won it (time trial world title) in any age group, I’ve been after this since I was a junior, so to win my first one in the seniors is pretty special.

"I am just going to enjoy the moment, and enjoy the next year in the rainbow," Dennis added.

The victory capped off a stellar season for the dual Olympian who stood on the top step of the podium in six time trials in the 2018 season.

The full cohort of Australia's Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Team was announced, with Buenos Aires 2018 set to start the following month.

Liana Buratti
olympics.com.au 

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