26 March 2017
Teens write their names into history at senior State Championships
Despite the pressure of favoritism, three teens have written their names into the history books as state champions on day two of the 120th NSW Track and Field Championships. No surprises the two key distance events were tactical, while, in the para events there were qualifiers for 2017 world championships. Finally, Australia’s best female athlete, Dani Samuels had her best ever start to an Aussie season. Ron Bendall and David Tarbotton report for Athletics NSW.
Rain during the day and drizzle at the start of her competition were certainly to the liking of 2009 world champion, Dani Samuels (WES) who nailed 66.78m on her last throw to win the NSW discus title. Her mark was her second best ever in Australia, just three centimetres short of her 2014 national championship winning performance in Melbourne.
“I was hoping to throw around 65 or 66. My body is in good shape and I feel like things are working in training,” Samuels said. Her consistency was a feature.
“Every throw was a world championship qualifier. When I threw 65m in the fifth I shot it left so I knew a straight throw could go 66 plus. I’ve never opened the season with that big of a throw.”
After a year on the Gold Coast, Samuels has returned to Sydney to live. Where her coach Denis Knowles is and occasional training partner, British Olympian, Jade Lally.
“Jade is a top quality competitor and came third at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and she is one of my main rivals going into the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Jade’s out here training so it is good to have some good quality training partners, good banter and someone to push you in competition. Last time Jade was here I threw 66 metres.”
The high hurdles and 100m double is common with the women but rarer for the men. Nick Andrews was close with silver in the 110m hurdles, prior to claiming the 100m crown just 40 minutes later. Time were irrelevant as headwinds slowed the athletes.
“It felt really good. My first open state title I have won. It shows I have been training hard. I was positive going into the race – you have to have that mindset that you can win,” Andrews said.
His winning time was 10.72 into a 1.6 m/s wind. He led home two former Cherrybrook club mates Jin Su Jung (10.81) and Jordan Shelley (10.91).
Nick Hough (SYU) had little trouble winning the 110m hurdles title in 14.18 into a 3.0m/s wind.
“It is pretty tough (the headwind) and your feel yourself getting further and further from each hurdle on each flight and it is very hard to get a fast time in those conditions,” Hough said.
In the women’s hurdles, WA’s Brianna Beahan won over home-town favourite Michelle Jenneke. Beahan, who last year missed Rio qualification by just 0.03 seconds, clocked 13.32 (-1.6m/s wind) ahead of Jenneke’s 13.57. Beahan would be expected to push Sally Pearson at the nationals on the same track in one month.
Teenager and former 800m junior star, Jackson Collett (UTN) won the 400m title ahead of another Teenager, also from the Central Coast Tyler Gunn (WYO). There was drama at the start when the athletes were being called to their marks and Collett was a ‘no show’. The race was held as he quickly threw on his spikes, setup his blocks and had a run through.
“I thought the race was 7.35pm. I probably didn’t read it properly – which is highly likely,” he revealed later. You could have thought he was maybe not fully warmed up?
“I was very warmed up – maybe too warmed up.”
Did he panic?
“You know you just stay relaxed. It is about enjoyment. You might look a little silly turning up late, but you just laugh about it – get on with it and think, ‘how good it will be if I win this’. As my coach (Mike Hurst) says, stay ‘sanguine’ - positive in difficult situations.”
And he certainly did, taking the win in 47.52, outside his national leading time of 47.09.
“State champion - that’s a nice feeling. It has only just sunk in. I thought I could do it and I executed well and got it done, maybe not to perfection but I got all the main aspects.”
Collett, who runs with the Athletics NSW fast track program is coaching by Mike Hurst who has guided two Olympic finalists in Darren Clark and Maree Holland.
“He is a delight to work with. I think he can go a long way. There is a lot more to come from him. He is the best mover I’ve had the privilege to work with since Darren Clark. His relationship with the track is excellent you hear him on the track. It is whispering death. Like sand paper raking over timber. This is only his fourth race this summer. Most of the year he has been injured, but we had to sort out all his little injuries and now we are on top of them. The only thing he has now is a big blister.”
The women’s 800m brought together two relatively new athletes to the event. Rio Olympian, Anneliese Rubie (SYU) has dabbled with the 800m in recent years, but after making the 400m semi in Rio, decided to make the move up the distance. Her rival, Lora Storey (RBH) went so close last year to qualifying for Rio in her first season of 800 metre after moving from the 400m hurdles. Typically the state title was a tactical race.
“I thought it would be a ‘sit and go’ I knew I had to make the decision to go before anyone else,” recalled Storey.
She won in 2:06.92, just ahead of Rubie’s 2:07.10.
Rubie was a little disappointed, but still philosophical about her move to the 800m.
“I’m still getting used to these. One minute you feel like you are jogging and before you realize it the pace is on. You have to be conscious of every move. I think I will take more lessons from that race today. It is still early days for me in this event. Every race I keep say ‘okay I won’t do that again’.”
After Rio, Rubie relocated to Melbourne to train with Peter Fortune.
“I have loved the move to Melbourne, but it is not Sydney. It is annoying my family is not there and no beaches. Everything I love about Sydney isn’t in Melbourne. But it is a really easy place to train. I’m just a kilometre away from the track there and having the squad is helpful.”
Storey will today attempt a rare double, the 400m and 800m. It has already been a busy weekend, as on Friday night she ran the 400m and 800m heats within 95 minutes. The women’s 400 metres line up today is one of the best fields for years.
A special mention to 16-year-old bronze medallist Carley Thomas (UTN) who ran 2:07.71 – her second Commonwealth Youth qualifier, and 14-year-old Jaylah Hancock-Cameron (NOW) from the NSW South Coast, who was sixth in 2:10.01.
In the men’s shot, 17-year-old Central Coast athlete, Aiden Harvey achieved the extraordinary winning distance of 17.29m with the senior weigh implement. He now sits just outside the Australian top-10 juniors of all-time.
There was jubilation on the far side of the track with not only a win, but the first 16 metre jump by Trinity’s Ben Cox.
“I’m stocked, super stoked. I couldn’t be happier,” Cox said. “I had the best series of my life opened with 65 and the rest were 80s or 90s. Then 16.00 finally!”
On Friday evening, Novocastrian Erin Cleaver achieved a PB and IPC world championships qualifier in the F38 long jump, with a tremendous leap of 4.62m. On Saturday Belinda Scott (ASW) also qualified for an Australian team - the inaugural IPC junior world championships. Scott ran 2:37.65 in the 800m, over three seconds under the standard.
More Information on entries, timetable, and details click here.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: women’s 800m field, featuring Anneliese Rubie, Lora Storey and Carley Thomas (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)