Wellings earns 10 out of 10 for PB effort
13 August 2016
ATHLETICS: Eloise Wellings has recorded the best ever Olympic result by an Australian in the women’s 10,000m final, smashing her personal best in a race that saw Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana smash a 23-year-old world record.
Wellings ran the race of her career to finish 10th in a time of 31 minutes, 14.94 seconds, eclipsing her previous personal best of 31:41.31.
It was an incredible performance by the Australian, who has shown tremendous perseverance in her career after suffering numerous stress fractures in her earlier years.
Today, that courage was rewarded as she became the first Australian to finish in the top 10 of the event, surpassing the previous best result of 17th shared by Carolyn Schuwalow (32:10.05 set at the 1988 Games in Seoul) and Susan Hobson (32:25.13 set in 1996 at the Atlanta Games).
The Australian burst into tears when she learned of her achievement as she walked off the Olympic Stadium track.
“I was just told that by Bruce McAvaney, which was pretty special, in Bruce’s words,” Wellings said.
“It made me burst into tears. It probably won’t sink in until after the five (kilometre race).
“I knew that I was in good shape, training’s been going amazing, I haven’t been injured for five years.
“It’s so much a part of my story that I’ve had 11 stress fractures in my 10 years.
“But not having had one injury for five years, having that consistency and my foundation that I’ve built and the experience that I’ve had in all the major championships have put me in good stead for the future and I’m definitely keen to go on after this year and go to Comm Games … maybe have another baby in between … then hopefully Tokyo.”
It was an unforgettable race for the Australian, not least because of her own performance.
In the first athletics world record of the Rio Games, Ayana blitzed the field to win gold in 29:17.45, smashing the 1993 world record of China’s Wang Junxia (29:31.78).
Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyoy won silver in 29:32.53 while Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba won bronze in 29:42.56.
“It was an incredible race to be part of and I’ve got the 5000m race now which I’m stoked about,” Wellings said.
“Obviously by the time I’ve run my best race but I really ran smart and just kept my head.
“I was a bit worried because I was really calm in the call room, and I was like, oh I need a bit of adrenalin, but definitely once I got out to the start line I was ready to go and managed my energy well and felt great in the race.
“I knew if I ran a really great race I could get top 10, so that was pretty much the goal."
Wellings said today’s result was a reward for staying tough in the years she thought her promising career would end due to injury.
“I love the sport so much,” she said.
“Obviously they were really challenging times (when I was injured) and there were a couple of times that I really wanted to quit and was wondering what I was meant to be doing in life.
“But I love to run.”
Wellings’ performance was the highlight of an otherwise challenging first morning for the Australians at the Olympic Stadium.
Olympic debutant Matthew Denny and Australian record holder Benn Harradine both missed out on places in the men’s discus final.
Denny finished 19th with a best throw of 61.16m.
Harradine, aiming for a second consecutive Olympic final after placing ninth at the London 2012 Games, finished 20th with a best throw of 60.85m.
In the men’s 800m heats, the Aussie trio of Jeff Riseley, Luke Mathews and Peter Bol each missed a place in the semi-finals.
Riseley was the best of the Australians. The Victorian ran a bold race and was third in his heat with less than 150m to go but was run down by Ireland’s Mark English in the straight to finish fourth in 1.46.93.
“It’s a pretty cut-throat process,” Riseley said of qualifying for the semis.
“I’ve been improving every race, I did everything right, haven’t missed a beat in terms of training, but for whatever reason I couldn’t finish off and it didn’t work out today.”
Bol finished sixth in his heat in a time of 1.49.36, while Mathews finished seventh in his heat in a time of 1:50.17.
“I gave it my best, Bol said.
“It’s disappointing but first international meet, just the experience, I’ll be better for it next time.”