14 March 2015
#STC15 Headlines: Starc 2.30m, Outzen 81.80m, Samuels 66.21m and Heiner 15:21
There were many very impressive performances by athletes from the home state at the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday evening. There were personal best, world championships standards and movement on the Australian all time lists by Starc, Nelson, Outzen, Samuels, Gregson, Clarke and Heiner, to name a few.
It was a particularly big day in sport for the Starc family on Saturday 15th of March. Mitchell, playing for the Australian cricket team, claimed four wickets for 14 runs helping Australia to an easy win against Scotland. On the high jump fan at Sydney Olympic Park, younger brother, Brandon, was leaping over a crossbar at 2.30m or seven foot, six and a half inches. His performance moved him to equal fourth on the Australian all-time list and achieved the world championships standard. It was the highest leap by an Aussie since Tim Forsyth cleared the same height in July 1999.
“Hopefully it will be my name not his in the media,” Brandon Starc said. “Good on him, he has been going well, but I’m glad I’m going well too.”
Starc was not expecting this performance, this soon in his career.
“I was expecting a qualifier (2.28m) this year, either now or nationals, but I knew I’m capable of more now.
The 2.30m barrier?
‘Yes massive!” Now I’ve cleared 2.30m it I want to get consistent at the height.”
Brisbane-based Dani Samuels started the action with her fifth best throw of her career, a fifth round toss of 66.21m.
“I knew it was good conditions and I felt good. The 65 (her second round throw) still didn’t feel that good, so I knew if I nailed it at the front it would have gone further, so I was trying to get that is the last couple of throws. When 66 metres comes up it is very exciting. A throw of 66 metres is not familiar territory, but I will be trying to make it that.”
The good conditions were taken advantage by the whole field with all seven competitors over 51 metres.
There was a major upset when Australia’s leading sprinters, Mel Breen and Sally Pearson were beaten over 200m by Ella Nelson. In a high quality race with the best possible Australian lineup they responded well with six athletes under 23.9. Up front was Commonwealth Games semi-finalist Nelson, running 23.24, a personal best and just missing the world championships standard of 23.20.
“I really tried to attack the bend a bit harder and try and get as close to Sal and Mel as I can. That is my signature, coming home like a train,” Nelson said.
“I’ll be hitting it hard at nationals and trying to achieve the standard there.”
After her return to form last season which saw her progress into the Commonwealth Games team, she has struggled this season to race as often as her and coach Michael Dooley planned.
“I’ve had a few niggles, but it was a matter of trusting the plan and the people around me,” she said.
Sally Pearson was gracious in defeat.
“It is not the way I wanted to run, but there are no excuses, well done to Ella.”
After a few years of selection disappointment, javelin thrower Matt Outzen is so close to world championship selection with a personal best throw of 81.80m, moving him to ninth on the Australian all time list. He fell just 20 centimetres short of the standard, which surely is his sooner or later. He also defeated Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Tasmania’s Hamish Peacock, for not the first time this season.
It was billed as a NSW V Qld state of origin with four from each state selected to race. Unfortunately the form athlete over the last few weeks, Qld’s Trae Williams didn’t after winning the national under title earlier in the day. NSW’s form athlete Josh Clarke, pushed Panamanian visitor Alonso Edward to the line as Edwards clocked 10.29 and Clarke a personal best of 10.30. Next were NSW pair Isaac Ntiamoah (10.42) and Jin Su Jung (10.45).
“It was good experience running against Edwards and I probably tightened up a little bit.” Clarke recalled. “It is a learning curve to come up against these guys and finish off well.”
Due to recurring hamstring injuries, Clarke, who last year ran the fastest time ever by an Aussie at the world juniors, had been restricted to just a few races each season.
“My coach is just trying to take it nice and slowly with me. I’ve had a few injuries in the last few years so we are just chipping away and in a few years I’ll be ready to run more.”
Dual Commonwealth games middle distance finalist, Jeff Riseley found a returning and determined Ryan Gregson too strong in the 1500m as they recorded times of 3:36.51 and 3:36.87 (both athletes less than a second outside the world championships qualifying standard).
“In the last few weeks I’ve been picturing how the race would go and that is exactly how it did,” Gregson said.
“I knew the guy who was pacing and how it would go. The way Jeff tried to win it was the hardest way, as I was too strong. The way he beat Alex Rowe in Adelaide they were neck and neck in the straight but Jeff killed him. Even at 120m to go tonight I didn’t think I’d won, I only won in the last 10 metres. Jeff’s very good.”
Gregson won’t race Melbourne, but has set himself for the Australian Championships.
“The nationals are an opportunity to practise championship racing.”
He also has a definite goal this year.
“The plan is to be running 3:36.2 (world champs standard) by August 12, then run as hard as I can in the world champs semi-final and make the final.”
It was an unexpected but pleasing return to form by Gregson.
“The last five years I’ve had a lot of injuries, but I don’t really talk about them. As an example three weeks out from the Commonwealth Games I had a stress fracture of the femur.”
In a fast race with deepth, third Aussie was Josh Wright (3:39.05) followed by great performances by a pair of young NSW athletes Jordan Gusman (3:40.28) and Jack Stapleton (3:41.07).
Madeline Heiner ran a six second personal best of 15:21.09 to win the 5000m national title, behind Kenyan visitor Magdalene Masai. Heiner was very impressive running a controlled race and gradually disposing of her competition as she finished 16 second ahead of any other Aussie. She also moved to tenth on the Australian all time list.
Nick Hough was very strong, again, running his second fastest ever time of 13.55, faster than his fourth place in Glasgow. Surely the world championships standard of 13.47 awaits him.
In her major 800m debut, Anneliese Rubie was impressive slicing over a second from her best clocking 2:03.93, but was slightly disappointed to miss the world university games standard. However nailing the world university games standard was pole vaulting teenager Angus Armstrong, who cleared 5.35m and defeated all Aussie by 30 centimetres.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Brandon Starc (courtesy of David Tarbotton)