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Smith wins national walk title in warm-up for Commonwealth trials

Smith wins national walk title in warm-up for Commonwealth trials

Author: David Tarbotton & Ron Bendall/Sunday, 14 January 2018/Categories: News

14 Jan 2018

Smith wins national walk title in warm-up for Commonwealth trials


With one month to the Australia Championships and Commonwealth Games selection trials, NSW athletes were in action at four major venues across Australia over the weekend. The NSW 10,000m championships was held in Newcastle, while the sprinters were in action in Wollongong at the Illawarra Track Classic. Athletes also travelled to Perth for the Track Classic and the national 10,000m walk was held in Canberra which also hosted an allcomers and the ACT multi-event championships.



Olympian, Beki Smith won her second national 10,000m track walk title in Canberra, defeating NZ’s Alana Barber and Claire Tallent. Smith clocked 45:56.08 in the conducted at a favourable time of 8.00am.

“It’s been quite hot but there was a bit of relief this morning although it’s a bit windy so that makes it a bit tougher,” Smith told Athletics Australia. “It was just nice to ease into the race and then kick home at the end. I haven’t raced since August last year at the world championships, so I was just testing it out. I was happy that I could come home strong today. I knew it was going to be a tough race given the quality of the field, so it gives me a lot of confidence coming into nationals.”

On February 11, she will contest the Commonwealth Games trials in Adelaide.

“I’m so excited,” said Smith of the prospect of a home Commonwealth Games. “It’s the thing that kept me in the sport after the Olympics in Rio… It’s going to be amazing. Fingers crossed I get on that team.”


Central Coast teenager, Allanah Pitcher was impressive in the major step in class, clocking a competitive 50:50.75. Her training partner under Frank Overton, Carl Gibbons was the first NSW athlete in the men’s race, placing 18th in the international field, in 45:14.20.



Held in Newcastle for the first time, the NSW 10,000 metres titles were won by the two Aussies, who were first across the line in the Melbourne Marathon. Matt Cox (BAN) defended his title in 31:31.75, winning by 25 seconds ahead of Victorian Ben Toomey with 31:56.68. The women’s was a win to Yamba’s Celia Sullohern (NEW) in a very quick 32:56.21, just 25 seconds outside her winning time in the Australian Championship in December. Her national’s win secured her automatic nomination for the Commonwealth Games team. Second was former Athletics NSW employee Anna Fitzgerald (RBH) in a time of 36:58.13.

In the support events, Mia Hemsworth (UTN) ran an impressive 14.46 in the 100m hurdles (76cm), while local Laura Bonzo (MQH) ran a wind assisted 12.09 100m.



Commonwealth Youth 400m champion, Bendere Oboya, made her season debut as she starts her build up to tile at selection for the Commonwealth Games.  Oboya strode to victory in an impressive 54.07 to defeat local Sarah Carli (KEJ) who ran 55.84.

Oboya’s training partner in the Greg Smith squad, Jordan Sarmento (CBT) continued to emerge winning the 400m  ahead of teenager training partner Keegan Bell (CBT), 17, who smashed his PB running 47.52, just ahead of another athlete setting a PB, Matt Wood with 47.67. Could these three push for Commonwealth Games relay selection? Bell also has the IAAF World Under-20 Championships on the radar and just missed the standard of 47.35. In the women’s mile, Melinda Witchard (SYU) clocked 4:45.92 for the win just edging Olympian Vic Mitchell (AEA).

The Greg Smith squad continued their dominance in the short sprints with Anas Abu-Ganaba (CBT) and Holly Bender (MOU) taking the 60m/100m doubles. Abu-Ganaba nailed times of 6.86 and 10.75 respectively, while Bender, who clocked 7.54 and 12.16, was pushed to the line in both races by Luisa Healey (ILL)



A small contingent of NSW athletes travelled across the Nullarbor to compete at the Jandakot Airport Track Classic in Perth. Sydney Uni’s Josh Ralph was a comfortable winner of the 800m in 1:46.95, another Commonwealth Games B qualifier.

“That’s my sixth B qualifier,” Ralph told Athletics Australia. “It’s my fastest ever season opener as well so it’s really encouraging. First race always feels pretty quick. Going into the bell it felt like I was holding on for dear life, but I had so much more left there for the last 200m. I felt strong for the last 50.”

There was a number of NSW athletes in the field with James Gurr (UTN) fifth (1:48.29), Mason Cohen (UTN) sixth (1:48.41) and Jye Perrott (UTN) seventh (1:49.03).

Following his series of recent PBs, Angus Armstrong (SYU) was into the fray with a high quality domestic competition packed with internationals. Armstrong had a clean sheet through 5.15m, 5.25m and 5.35m. He passed 5.40m, but was unable to negotiate 5.45m, finishing in equal fourth with New Zealand’s Nick Southgate. Also in an event with good depth, Rhys Stein (ASW) hit 69.94m for fourth in the javelin.



NSW decathlon champion, Alec Diamond (UTN) took another health crack at the Commonwealth Games B standard while competing at the ACT Multi-event championships. Diamond, who had missed the 7600 standard by just eight points in December, tallied 7465 in Canberra over the weekend. He had a very solid day one with a long jump of 7.47m, shot 14.96m, high jump 1.94m and 400m 51.49. He had a mixed day two, but was particularly impressive in the discus 47.75m and javelin 53.38m.


Other NSW medallists were: Caelan Shaw – first U20 5405 points, Harrison Brierley – second U20 5322 points, Ethan Bateman – first U18 4753 points, Riley Wuromus-Hilzinger – first U16 2520 points, Vicki Townsend – first open masters 2578 points and Joanne Waring – second open 4044 points.


In individual events, Rohan Browning (SYU) continued his barnstorming season with a 200m PB of 20.94 into a heading and in blustery conditions. Isaac Ntiamoah (SUT) continues his comeback season, at the age of 35 and is looking good for a Commonwealth Games relay position. In Canberra he clocked 10.58 into a 2.2m/s wind. In the women’s 100m, Larissa Pasternatsky (SYU) pushed Australian record holder, Mel Breen to the line 11.81 to 11.91 (-1.4m/s). In the field, Brandon Starc (PAR) was over 2.20m in the high jump and long jump Sachi Kayama (ILL) cleared a PB 6.25m. Attempting to push his stride pattern in the difficult windy conditions, national champion, Ian Dewhurst (SYU) placed third in the 400m hurdles in 51.29. He was defeated by 2016 national champion Leigh Bennett (MQH) with 50.84 and New Zealander Cameron French with 49.98. In fourth Bryce Collins (UTN) clipped 0.04 seconds off his PB, clocking 51.38 seconds.



Seven NSW athletes have been named in two national teams for the next couple of months. Milly Clark (SYU), Harry Summers (RBH) and Thomas DoCanto (HIL) have been named in a very strong Australian team for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships to be held in Valencia, Spain, on March 24, 2018. On the same day the Commonwealth Games opens on April 4, four NSW athletes will be competing at the FISU World University Cross Country Championships, being held in St Gallen in Switzerland. Selected have been NSW’s best cross-country athlete in 2017, Ed Goddard (UTN), to be joined by Joe Burgess (SYU) and in the women’s race Paige Campbell (SYU) and Lara Hamilton (SYU).


David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW

Image: Beki Smith (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)



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