25 Feb 2019
Gusman shows his mettle at Sydney Track Classic
NSW country athletes, Jordan Gusman and Paige Campbell delivered two of the performances of the evening at a great the Sydney Track Classic, where exciting racing in the circulate events more than made up for the slower times, due to the very gusty conditions.
Sometimes it can take many years to find the right groove and in the men’s 5000m national championship Jordan Gusman (BAN) finally hit the mark, as a surprise winner of the 5000m over favourite Stewart McSweyn.
“It has taken me a little while to find my feet,” Gusman reflected. “I’ve struggled in recent years to come out and have any great success, so hopefully my career with this American group has started this.” In late 2018 he made a big change in his coaching arrangement moving to the ‘Tin Men’ squad based in Colorado, and also moving his Australian training base to Melbourne with his girlfriend.
By about mid-way in the race, it was down to two – Gusman and McSweyn. Everybody seemed to be wondering – when Gusman would drop back to the main pack. But he refused to go. Refusing to follow the script, as he stuck with McSweyn.
“On the last lap I was hanging on for dear life, then I just went as hard as I could down the back straight. I was planning to go at about 250m and it helped there was a tail wind down on the back straight. I made the move and I knew if I gapped him that it was going to be a hard ask for him coming home.
“With 80m to go I could hear the commentator saying he was coming so I dug a little deeper and looked over my shoulder at 40m to go and at that point felt I had extended the lead.”
Gusman clocked 13:29.47 ahead of McSweyn 13:32.37.
“Honestly I only thought my real shot was if McSweyn was tired returning from Europe. But to run the way I did and get the win over Stewy - it is what dreams are made of and I didn’t think I could do it.”
Conducted nearly two hours earlier in the program, the wind was savage for the athletes running up the home straight.
An earlier pack of seven was narrowed to just three over the last mile as Melissa Duncan (V), Sinead Diver (V) and surprisingly NSW’s Paige Campbell (SYU) cleared away from the field. After Diver had piloted the field for a few laps, at the bell Duncan and Campbell were away, with Duncan unstoppable taking the title in 15:29.70, ahead of Campbell 15:31.50 and Diver the bronze in 15:35.70. The consensus was the wind had foiled a qualifying opportunity.
The breakthrough season for Orange-based physio student, Paige Campbell had continued. Her time was a staggering 38 seconds PB.
“It was tough out there and the wind was really strong in the home straight, so I just tried to hold on and on for another lap and I knew if I was there at the end I’d have a chance,” Campbell said.
She was most unlucky not to be selected in the steeplechase for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but this season is making up for that miss. She has slashed her 3000m by 11 seconds, now down to 9:01.76. In the 10,000m she debuted at a staggering time of 32:39.16 – the 28th fastest in Australian history, placing fourth in the national title. In January she third in the World XC trial, securing Australian team selection for Denmark in March.
Following the World Cross Country Championships, she will return to Australia where she will contest the national 3000m steeplechase title. Obviously capable of a world championships 5000m qualifier, she maybe rethinking her plan to qualify for Doha in the steeplechase.
Annelise Rubie-Renshaw (SYU) confirmed she is the premier quarter-miler in the country with a relatively comfortable win in the 400m (52.57) ahead of the Commonwealth Games team mate Bendere Oboya (CBT), and 16-year-old Ellie Beer (Q) in a PB 53.41. Fourth placegetter, Bella O’Grady (UTN) with 53.51, remains the national leader on time following her 52.38 in December.
“I was really nervous going into this. My first 400m is always hard. So, it is nice to get it out of the way and get the win is really confidence boosting,” said Rubie-Renshaw who has run just three 200s this year.
“After Commonwealth Games last year one of my biggest takeaways was I needed to be quicker, so I’ve been working on my speed and running 200s. I’ll fully focus now on the 400m, no more 800s.”
Through the Sydney Track Classic we have witnessed the development of Gregson’s great 1500m career. As a senior athlete, no Australian has defeated him here – since 2010. In 2009 he was third breaking the still standing Australian under-20 record.
The master also used the conditions to his advantage to win in 3:40.75, ahead of Rorey Hunter (BAN) 3:40.90 and James Hansen (T) 3:41.43.
“I knew it would be tough into the straight (due to the wind) so I kind of wanted to go a bit earlier just to get a jump on everyone as the straight was so tough and hard to come back from,” said Gregson who is just days off a plane from Europe where he witnessed his national indoor 1500m being broken by Stewart McSweyn.
“He deserved that, he ran a great race. It was the indoor record and I still have the outdoor record which is the main one I didn’t hold the indoor record too close to my heart. Stewey put himself on the line and ran really hard and deserved it. He can run a lot faster too. I wasn’t quite ready to compete with the rest of the world the other day but I will be in the coming months.
“As I’ve got older I’m not as good first up and it takes a few races to get going in a campaign,” explained Gregson, maybe referring to his slow start to the season including his mile loss in December.
For some Hunter’s second was a surprise, but he was close to a Commonwealth Games berth in 2018, placing third in the trial.
Did he consider it was one of his best performances?
“In terms of results – yes, but execution – probably not.
“I wanted to be patient early and be ready at 600m when the moves would come and I almost did that. I felt relaxed but was a bit too passive early and had to work really hard in the last 400m and had enough at the end.”
Women’s 400m hurdles
If anyone thought that Sarah Carli’s (KEJ) stunning 55.67 in Canberra last month was a fluke, they were left in no doubt she is the real deal after another top run in Sydney. Although she was third, her time of 56.51 in windy conditions was worthy of another world championships qualifier. New Zealand’s former heptathlete Portia Bing won in a national record time of 56.04, with four-time Commonwealth Games representative Lauren Wells second with 56.19. In fourth place Sara Klein recorded another excellent time of 57.28. In the last six weeks she has registered her four fastest times of her career.
Men’s 110m Hurdles
Nick Andrews’ (CHE) gradual return to 110m hurdles, the event which saw his make his international debut at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, picked up momentum as he destroyed his PB clocking 13.91 and moving up 10 places on the all-time list to 17th.
“It was a massive PB. This season my coach and I have worked on chipping away at that World Uni qualifier (13.87). I started the season at 14.31 – now 13.91,” said Andrews. “It is good momentum moving into nationals.”
His last hurdles race was in November 2017. “Then I pursued Commonwealth Games in the sprint/relay and it didn’t work out for me. So I took the whole off season to train up (on the hurdles).”
Why the move back to the hurdles?
“It is what I think I’m better at. More enjoyable and technically something to work on in every single session.”
The big improver in the half-mile over the last 14 months, Jye Perrott (UTN) continued to be the leading Australian in domestic competition with a second place behind New Zealander Brad Mathas in the men’s 800m. Perrott clocked 1:49.27 with training partner and next Aussie in the race, Mason Cohen (UTN) fourth in 1:49.67.
“It was pretty windy, so hard to gauge the pace,” said Perrott who explained how the race unfolded. “I tried to hop into about third place, then the Japanese athlete started to pull away so I made a little bit of a move in the home straight on the first lap. Then tried to sit in until the end.”
Other highlights in brief:
After a busy few weeks with travel to New Zealand and America, Carley Thomas (UTN) was still able to post an excellent result in the 800m, just beaten by Australia's fastest current 800m runner, Georgia Griffith, clocking 2:02.88 for second.
Back home in NSW, the now Perth-based Angus Armstrong cleared 5.51m to take the pole vault just 1cm below his PB.
Alex Hulley (HIL) threw 68.15m in the hammer throw, her third best mark of her career and just below what she threw to take silver in the Commonwealth Games.
Pole Vaulter Lizzy Baral (ASW) is edging closer to a significant barrier…four metres. She cleared a PB 3.95m on her first attempt and missed 4.10m in the tricky conditions.
In the women’s 1500m, 16-year-old Jaylah Hancock-Cameron (BAN) sliced more than two seconds from her 1500m clocking 4:16.03.
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Jordan Gusman (courtesy of Fred Etter)