Darcy Roper & Conor Warren farewell junior competition with gold, as #AAC17 gets underway in Sydney

Darcy Roper (Qld) has capped off his impressive junior career with victory in the boy’s under 20 long jump as the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships launched at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre.

Soaring to 7.79m (w: +0.4) in the second round, Roper’s national crown today sits alongside his silver (2015) and gold (2016) medals from previous instalments of the Championships.

Those results ensured his selection to Australian teams bound for both the IAAF World Youth Championships and the IAAF World Under 20 Championships. He soared an impressive 8.01m (w: +0.5) at Cali 2015 to place second, before yet another medal winning performance in Bydgoszcz (POL) in 2016.

“I remember every one of my national junior championships. They all feel like yesterday. Every time I have competed here it has been so enjoyable, and the successes I’ve had have sort of been a bonus. It’s a bit strange to only compete alongside the big boys now, but that’s what I’ve got to do to keep moving on as an athlete,” Roper said.

“Today being my last competition, I didn’t really go out there on the hunt for a record or a personal best. I haven’t had the preparation to do that so my coach and I decided to have a bit of fun with it and enjoy my last chance to jump as an under 20. We spoke on the phone and said to enjoy it, and I absolutely did.”

Roper was joined on the podium today by David Chen (NSW, second, 7.33m) and Michael Cann (Vic, third, 7.33m), with the 18-year-old now turning his attention to the men’s long jump to be held on Sunday 2 April.

“I was keeping in mind that I’ve got the open event to come, too. I’m feeling good for it. It’s going to be a good competition with people like Chris Mitrevski, Angus Gould andShemaiah James in great form. Chris jumped 8.05 in Canberra so it’s going to be awesome to watch,” Roper added.

“For me I’ll be working to stay positive. I want consistency with my series and then the big leap should come. I’m on the hunt for a World University Games qualifier, that’s the next step for me as a developing open athlete and I’d be thrilled to get the chance to wear the green and gold again.”

Roper’s teammate at the IAAF World Under 20 Championships, Conor Warren (Qld), also competed for the last time as a junior on day one, winning gold in the javelin with a best mark of 70.78m.

Opening his series with a throw of 67.50m, he continued with 6.79m, 63.67m, 62.17m and 65.47m before his championship winning throw in the final round.

On the track, Paralympian Jaryd Clifford (Vic) qualified for the able-bodied final of the boy’s under 20 1500m after stopping the clock at 4:00.68 to win the first heat. Clifford’s result sees him advance to the last round as fastest.

Clifford also competed in the 1500m at Rio 2016, with the time for the race quicker than that of the able-bodied event at the Olympic Games just weeks earlier.

To read his personal reflection about what he described as a life changing race, please click here.

In other results on day one of the Australian Athletics Championships:

–          Bendere Oboya (NSW) sent a commanding message to her rivals in the first round of the girl’s under 18 400m, clocking 54.43 to record a Commonwealth Youth Games qualifier ahead of the round-of-eight.

–          Samuel Walker (Tas) and Tamsin Colley (NSW) clocked 25.62 (w: +1.6) and 33.94 (w: +0.5) respectively to win gold in the boy’s and girl’s under 16 ambulant 200m and record a qualifier for the World Junior Para-Athletics Championships.

–          Boasting two qualifiers for the Commonwealth Youth Games at the commencement of competition, Emily Whelan (NSW) won the girl’s under 18 high jump with a leap of 1.75m to stake her claim for selection to Nassau 2017.

–          Declan Tingay (WA) won gold in the boy’s under 120 10,000m walk, clocking 42:09.52, as Clara Smith (Qld) reigned supreme in the girl’s race in a time of 49:17.99

The Australian Athletics Championships continue at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre, with Coles Nitro Athletics Melbourne charge Riley Day (Qld) set to make her first appearance on track in the girl’s under 18 100m alongside the Commonwealth Youth Games qualified Mia Gross (Vic) and Maisie Stevens (NSW).

For more information on the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships, including results, please click here.