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Thomas runs Olympic hurdles qualifier

3 June 2012

Tasmania Tristan Thomas has clocked 49.39 for second in Geneva to etch a first Athletics Australia 400m hurdles qualifier for the Olympic Games next to his name.

A season best and the fastest time he has run since the Monaco-hosted Diamond League ahead of the 2009 IAAF world championships, Thomas’ performance could see the 26-year-old join his fellow AIS scholarship holder Brendan Cole on the nomination list to compete at the London Olympic Games.

Thomas said: “Other than being extremely sunburnt I can honestly say this was the first time I’ve smiled like a kid at an athletics track in three years.

“I didn’t know I’d run the time as I wasn’t sure how far behind the winner I was and he has crossed in 49.24. When I found out later though you would have seen me jumping up and down like a teenage girl meeting One Direction.

Thomas has endured a long road back to the hurdles from injury after winning a bronze medal alongside John Steffensen (NSW), Sean Wroe (Vic) and Joel Milburn (NSW) at the world championships in Berlin (GER) three years ago.

Competing in only the flat 400m across the 2011 Australian Athletics Tour, Thomas returned to the hurdles at the Sydney Track Classic (51.26) before crossing second in 50.23, his fastest time in Australia this year, at the Qantas Melbourne Track Classic & Olympic Trials.

Thomas continued: "The road back from injury has been tough. The physical side is one thing, and I can sincerely say my physiotherapist Craig Purdam has magic hands, but it's the mental side that has been tougher. In your head you think you should still be where you always were but the confidence takes time.

“As for London this means like I belong again. My loved ones can sleep a bit easier and my coach Craig Hilliard can get some joy after a pretty tough year with his won cancer scare.

“I’ve got a few more races next month, then some pretty serious training. I still want nothing more than to run 48 again and mix it with the best, and that chance will come in an Australian uniform and that’s the best possible way to spend August in any year let alone an Olympic one.

Thomas has a personal best of 48.68 and has taken out the national title three times including in Melbourne (Vic) this past April. In 2009, he was crowned Universiade champion in Belgrade (SRB) before winning a bronze medal in the 4x400m relay at the 2009 IAAF world championships in Berlin (GER).

The race in Geneva was won by Kurt Muoto (MOZ, 49.24), with Benjamin Summer (GBR, 49.64) crossing third.

On the second day of Samsung Diamond League action in Eugene, USA, Collis Birmingham (Vic) ran a personal best in the 5000m, while Craig Mottram (Vic) came 14th.

The race was run in consistent splits with the first pacemaker, Jordan McNamara (USA) taking them through 1000m and then Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi (KEN) running the field through 2000m in 5:12.49 and 3000m in 7:49.28.

At the 3000m mark Birmingham sat towards the back of the lead pack, alongside Galen Rupp (USA), with Mottram behind. When world champion Mo Farah (GBR) then kicked to the front, with training partner Rupp, Birmingham duly followed to maintain pace with a tight front eight pack.

And Farah continued to stride out to the finish line to win in a world lead and meet record of 12:56.98, with Isaiah Kiplangat (KEN) second in 12:57.63 and Rupp third in 12:58.90. The double Olympic gold medallist from Beijing, Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) was fourth in a season’s best 13:01.48.

Birmingham crossed the line in ninth in 13:10.51 while Mottram was four places behind in 13:34.00. Incidentally Birmingham’s previous personal best was set at the same meet, the Eugene Prefontaine Classic, two years ago when he also finished ninth but in 13:10.97.

Athletics Australia

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