Cedric Dubler, Dane Bird-Smith and Matthew Denny snare Gold on Day 6 at the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships

Olympic finalist Ryan Gregson has breezed through his heat of the men’s 1500m at the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships from Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre.

Cruising to the finish line in a comfortable 3:47.74, Gregson has advanced to the final on Sunday afternoon in search for his third national title over 1500m.

The Nic Bideau trained athlete looked strong entering the final straight to qualify alongside competitors such as Jordan Williamsz (Vic), Jordan Gusman (ACT), Matthew Ramsden (WA) and Adam Pyke (Vic).

“It was good, it was really good,” Gregson said post-race.

“I was in the form of my life this time last year, but this year, I’ve raised it another level.

“I haven’t been hurt in a while and I’ve had a great 12 months of racing – that’s the simple recipe. I’m getting better every day.”

Gregson has had an exciting start to his 2017 racing season, playing a major role as Team Australia captain at the Coles Nitro Athletics Melbourne series, taking out wins in both the mixed relay and elimination mile events.

Looking toward the final, Gregson has high praise for his training partner and fellow Nitro competitor Matthew Ramsden.

“I do a lot of running with Ramsden, he’s a good young kid with a huge upside. I’m not sure what his best event is going to be – I think he could be a really good 5k runner. He’s a great runner from the front.

“This competition is the kind of level of running at a Commonwealth Games heat so it’s great practise for Gold Coast 2018. It’s another test for me to get a tactical race right.”

Following on from last night’s opener, Steve Solomon (NSW) progressed through to the 400m final by taking out his heat in 47.33 seconds.

The London Olympic finalist looked strong toward the line, as he qualified second fastest through to the final behind Alex Beck (QLD) in 47.15.

With the final looming tomorrow evening, Solomon was pleased to be able to get a strong hit out in a competitive field.

“I think I needed yesterday to get the flight out of my legs,” 23-year-old said.

“I didn’t feel like myself yesterday – I felt a bit sluggish, but tonight I was running really well.

“Your form goes out when you’re not really running (pushing yourself), so I think that was part of it yesterday. So today I decided to go out normally and I just relaxed into it.”

Read about Steve Solomon’s preparations for the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships and how he reacted to missing out on the Rio Olympics, four years after running in the final as a 19-year-old in London.

In the ambulant 1500m, Rio Paralympic medallist Deon Kenzie (Tas) smashed his own world record, stopping the clock in 4:05.11.

With that performance, the 21-year-old will be looking to better his silver medal performance in Rio at the World Para-Athletics Championships begin in July. Other qualifiers in for the upcoming championships in London include Paralympic gold medallist James Turner (NSW) in the T36 400m and Torita Isaac (QLD) in the T38 400m.

While he fell just short of his father’s national record he was aiming for, Dane Bird-Smith (QLD) lost no admirers after smashing the field in the men’s 10,000m race walk to win the national title.

Stopping the clock in 10-second personal best time of 38:34.23, the Rio Olympic medallist was strong throughout and will be looking to place well within medal contention at the world championships in London later this year.

“I’m just happy with putting up a PB like that,” Bird-Smith said after the race.

“Sorry I couldn’t get the record tonight, but I’m definitely not giving up I’m going to be coming back for it.”

Katie Heywood took out the women’s event in 45:51.09 and 17 years-of-age becomes the youngest ever Australian champion over the distance.

Cedric Dubler (QLD) has gone back-to-back in the men’s open decathlon, finishing with 7779 points after a gruelling 10-event program across two days of competition.

While he fell short of last year’s Olympic qualifying performance, Cedric’s feat in difficult conditions was commendable as the 13th best point score by an Australian ever.

“I’m very happy. It’s been a tough few days with the weather and a few little niggles, but just to be out here with the boys and competing well – I’m very happy with that,” the 22-year-old said.

Dubler’s highlights include a 5.10m clearance in the pole vault, 14.53 seconds in the 110m hurdles and 7.25m in the long jump.

“The pole vault was finally the result that I wanted and the result that I know I’m at. To clear the 5.10m I’m super happy with. My discus was good too and my javelin was a strong as well.”

Dubler, who already has secured a London 2017 berth with last year’s Australian Championships result, is looking forward to a strong performance at the world championships in August.

“I’m looking for a top-8 performance in London, and I know it’s definitely there within my reach. If I’m able to nail each of my events individually, it’s certainly possible.”

20-year-old Alysha Burnett took out the women’s heptathlon title with a point score of 5817 – a world university games qualifier.

Other highlights from day 6 of the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships included:

  • Matthew Denny (QLD) took gold in the men’s hammer throw with a performance of 73.37m to win his third consecutive gold in the event.
  • Anneliese Rubie (NSW) and Zoe Buckman (Vic) ran comfortably through their first heat of the women’s 800m in 2:05.39 and 2:05.45 respectively to join Lora Storey(NSW) in the final on Sunday evening.
  • Lauren Wells (ACT) breezed through her heat of the 400m hurdles to ensure her campaign for a 10th national title remains on track.
  • Ian Dewhurst (NSW) runs into the 400m hurdles final as the fastest Australian after posting 51.47 seconds in his heat.
  • Joshua Atkinson (NSW) runs a championships record in the U15 boy’s 1500m final with 4:10.86.
  • Toea Wisil (QLD) and Melissa Breen (ACT) qualified fastest for the women’s 100m semi-finals in 11.75 (-1.2) and 11.83 (-1.6) respectively, while Queenslander’s Trae Williams and Alex Hartmann find themselves in the top 2 positions in the men’s semi-finals recording 10.56 (-1.6) and 10.62 (-0.6)

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