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History made at 2019 Australian Track and Field Championships

8 April 2019

ATHLETICS: History was made on day seven of the Australian Track and Field Championships which concluded at Homebush on Sunday. Naa Anang and Celeste Mucci achieved rare doubles, while Lauren Wells with her 12th title and Alwyn Jones with his 10th also stamped their names into the history books.

After winning the women's 100m in 11.32 seconds on Saturday night, Naa Anang would face world number five Brooke Stratton in the long jump. Getting a win against the Rio Olympian would be a huge feat for the 24-year-old.

Leaping a PB of  6.81m in round one ahead of a wind assisted 6.88m in round two, it was clear Anang was up for the challenge.

Stratton rallied by round five with a respectable 6.70m, but the win and a piece of history was sealed by Anang as she became the first woman in the 70-year history of the championships to claim this double.

“I was hoping I could back it up after the 100m last night,” said Anang, who also qualified for the Doha 2019 World Championships. “I’m really happy I could and pleased with the PB."

Another athlete who claimed a double was teenager Celeste Mucci. After winning the heptathlon on Thursday and Friday with a good score of 5844 points, she rested on Saturday ahead of lining up in the 100m hurdles on Sunday.

After Sally Pearson withdrew from the hurdles final, the event was thrown wide open and few may recall that Mucci already had a win over her main rivals Michelle Jenneke and Brianna Beahan on the same track at the Sydney Track Classic. She was again the victor clocking a massive personal best time of 13.09 to become the eighth fastest in Australian history.

She also became the first athlete to claim this double since Jane Flemming in 1994 and was very emotional when her close win was confirmed.

“I really wanted to be fresh for this race, but knowing I wasn’t going to be, I had to dig deep to find some adrenaline,” she said.

She was located a few hurdles from Jenneke and Beahan and next to the vacant Pearson lane and revealed she was still suffering from the gruelling heptathlon.

“I was feeling alright yesterday on my rest day, and then this morning I woke up sore. I just had to run on a lot of adrenaline in the heat and manage a quick turnaround for the final.”

Rio Olympian Joel Baden also qualified for the world champs with a high jump of 2.30m, while Alwyn Jones claimed his tenth national triple jump title and Steve Solomon took out his sixth national 400m title.

Western Australian teenager Sasha Zhoya also broke records, both world and Australian. First up was the Australian record in the U18 110m hurdles, before Zhoya broke the U18 world record in the polevault. Not yet satisfied with those results, the 16-year-old also won the U20 200m in 21.18 into a 2m.s wind.

“Amazing ! Amazing! I finally got what I wanted," an excited Zhoya said.

One of the highest standard events was the women’s 800m and it basically went to the form guide, with favourite Catriona Bisset (VIC) winning in a brilliant time of 2:00.48, elevating her to tenth fastest Australian ever, and securing her a World Championships qualifying time.

A surprised Bisset said she was shocked with her performance,

“I was shocked. I had no idea I’d get a qualifier, that was completely not in the plan for the year.”

The slow first lap means she evenly split the race, an extraordinary achievement.

There were fast times for the medallists too with Georgia Griffith clocking a season’s best of 2:01.26 and Morgan Mitchell third in a two second PB time of 2:01.60 - her fourth consecutive PB this summer.

After running 55 seconds in the 400m hurdles for the last nine consecutive years, dual Olympian Lauren Wells broke through with a time of 54.87 to win her 12th national 400m hurdles title. It was also her third world championships qualifier this summer.

Wells confirmed she didn’t come to just cruise at this meet.

“A lot of people said coming into this, 'I’ve got my qualifier, it’s just about placing',” but the London and Rio Olympian was competing for pride and preparation, not qualification.

Eddie Nketia won the coveted men's 100m in a time of 10.22 ahead of Rohan Browning (10.28) and Jack Hale (10.34), coming from a brilliant pedegree of pace with his father (Gus Nketia) being the New Zealand national record holder at (10.11).

Kelsey Barber took out the javelin with a throw of 63.53m, beating 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell at 62.78m, but both women threw qualifying distances for Doha 2019.

It was redemption time for discus thrower Matt Denny. After six competitions this summer, four of them over 64 metres, the 65 metres world championships mark had eluded so far him.

But in the last competition of the summer and on his sixth and final attempt, the Rio Olympian nailed it, when he spun the discus out to 65.28m – and booked his place for the 2019 Doha World Championships.

“Last one of the season, good way to finish it I guess,” Denny said.

“There was a lot of pressure on this week to achieve a world champs qualifier. I was on the cusp of it and also needed 65m to upgrade on NAS (athlete funding). This will now relax me a bit more. I’m not chasing as much and will lead to bigger throws for sure."

One of the most intriguing battles was going to be the 1500m between Luke Mathews, Ryan Gregson, Matt Ramsden and Rorey Hunter. After a slow tactical race it all happened at the bell with the pace picking up, but in the home straight the young legs of Mathews (3:45.15) were too strong with Gregson in second, followed by Hunter and Ramsden, who raced last week at the world cross country championships, in fourth.

The men’s 3000m steeplechase in 2019 has shown growing depth this year. The lead athlete has been SA’s Max Stevens, with the fastest times in 2018 and 2019 – but he craved a title to justify his number one national status and he succeeded.

“First national title ever, so I’m over the moon,” he said.

“I finished second last year, I got so close and then held the top ranking and came here as the fastest man in 2019.”

Approaching the bell Stevens broke away and ran hard for home to win in 8:39.31, four seconds ahead of five-time winner, James Nipperess.

Paige Campbell claimed the title for the women in a time of 9:46.68. It was Campbell's first national title and she was fresh off the plane from the World Cross Country.

In the men’s walk, Dane Bird-Smith’s return to form continued setting a personal best time of 38:30.61 and strengthening his position as the second fastest in Australian history and 19th fastest of all time. However, he also remains the second fastest in his family as his dad, Dave, holds the Australian record at 38:20.9.

In the women's walk Katie Hayward smashed her 10,000m track walk national under-20 record by a staggering 69 seconds, clocking 43:20.65 to win the national open title. It erased her 44:29.27 record from January in Canberra which was followed by two sub-1:30 20km walks.

“I thought it was unlikely I get the world champs standard today, just with the cross country. We flew in on Tuesday and there was been lots of sleeping and resting.”

Alex Hartmann claimed his fifth consecutive 200m national title while Nick Hough ran his fastest time in two years outside of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning the 110m hurdles in 13.55 seconds.

Henry Smith capped off a tremendous season where he improved 28cm with his national long jump title leap of 7.90m ahead Chris Mitreviski 7.83m and Youth Olympian Josh Crowley came in third with a jump of 7.79m.

In the 800m Peter Bol claimed gold in 1:46.12 ahead of 2018 Commonwealth Games teammate, Josh Ralph running 1:46.12.

 Athletics Australia/olympics.com.au

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