Walkers in form, St Lawrence best Aussie at Zatopek:10
12 December 2011
Six athletes clocked Athletics Australia qualifying times for the 2012 London Olympics on Sunday morning, as race walkers from across the country descended on Melbourne for the Australian 50km Race Walking Championships.
In the men's 50km walk, it was Jared Tallent (VIC), Nathan Deakes (VIC), Chris Erickson (VIC) and Ian Rayson (NSW) who crossed below the 3:59:00 required, while Regan Lamble (VIC) and Beki Lee (NSW) clocked under 1:33:30 to etch qualifiers next to their names.
It was a race between three for the first 44 kilometres in the showcase men's 50km event as dual Olympic medallist Tallent, former world champion Deakes and Australian Flame Erickson sat on each other’s shoulders.
Breaking away with three laps to go on the two kilometre course, Deakes looked like the man to beat before Tallent made his move to the front just prior to the bell lap.
Tallent crossed the line in 3:49.33 to claim his third Australian title, as Deakes (3:50:34) posted his first qualifier to claim silver and Erickson (3:51:58) a near on three minute personal best and first qualifier for bronze.
"I didn’t plan to go the whole 50 kilometres today, I was just trying to push Chris (Erickson) along but after 35 kilometres I started feeling good and thought I might as well go on with it,” Tallent said.
“It was a good workout and I was pretty happy with my fitness, it felt really easy. Preparation wise everything is going well for London.
"Once I saw that Nathan was out of reach I thought go for it, and go for the win. In training we go up to 45km so it's not too hard to do the extra 5km today. It wasn't a fast time or anything but it's good to know that the preparation is going really well.
“I wanted to help the guys qualify today, and they did great."
Providing a fourth qualifying performance was Rayson, who finished in a time of 3:57:55. With Luke Adams (NSW) and Tallent already nominated to compete after top-eight performances at the world championships earlier this year, today’s results ensures three further athletes are in contention for the final spot.
In the women’s 20km event, meanwhile, it was up and coming stars Regan Lamble (VIC) and Beki Lee (NSW) who took control. Sitting out front alone for much of the race, Lamble’s crossed in an impressive 1:32.06 before Lee joined her beyond the finish line in 1:33.09. Both times are well under the Athletics Australia qualifying mark of 1:33.30.
"I probably went out a bit too fast to be honest but though I'd set myself up and go for it,” Lamble said.
“Not having anyone to pace me was actually good in a way as it gives me good practice to pace myself out there on my own and I have to learn how to walk at a strong pace by myself.
"I'm really happy with how I went out and did a qualifier without too many people around me."
Both girls will now return to training before the nomination trial for the 20km race walk is held in Hobart (TAS) on February, 25, 2012.
In other results on Sunday, Adam Rutter (NSW) won the men’s 20km walk in a time of 1:25:47. The silver medal was won by Athletics Australia Junior Athlete of the Year Dane Bird Smith (QLD, 1:26:38) on debut at the distance.
On Saturday evening the Lakeside Stadium at Albert Park was opened officially to the public with the 10,000m races for men and women the showcase.
Ben St Lawrence (NSW) and Emily Brichacek (ACT) were crowned Australian 10,000m champions at the ZATOPEK:10.
St Lawrence was third overall as Kenyans Emmanuel Bett (first, 27.39.33) and BitanKaroki (second, 27:40.11) posted Olympic qualifying marks. St Lawrence’s win is his second 10,000m crown and his fourth consecutive Australian title having now won the 5000m and 10,000m twice in succession.
St Lawrence, whose time falls short of the Athletics Australia qualifying mark for the Olympic Games, was joined on the dais for Australian title medals by David McNeill (VIC, second, 28:12.66) and Harry Summers (NSW, third, 28:39.04)
“When (Craig) Mottram dropped back I tried to keep up on the shoulder of the Africans, and was feeling pretty strong and good for the win, but they surged with a couple of kilometres to go and I didn’t have enough to go with them,” St Lawrence said.
“I have a qualifier from the Stanford race earlier in the year, and now have the national crown. I’m almost there, but it would have been nice to sure it up tonight with a win and a qualifier.”
Brichacek, meanwhile, heads home with her first 10,000m gold medal after earlier this year winning gold at the Australian Cross Country Championships.
She crossed the line in 33:02.55 to finish ahead of silver medallist Jess Trengove (SA, 33:16.72) and third place getter Belinda Martin (NSW, 35:00.03).
The Zatopek title was won by Joyce Chepkirui (KEN, 31:26.10), with her compatriot Emily Chebet (31:30.22) next across the line.