Sally Pearson (Qld) has made a triumphant return to the Australian Athletics Championships, reduced to tears of elation after a stunning performance to win her eighth national crown in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Taking to the track for the first round and blitzing the field to clock an IAAF World Championships qualification standard of 12.75 (w: +1.6), the London 2012 Olympic champion was unmatched in the final where she crossed the line in wind-assisted 12.53 (w: +2.3) to claim gold from Brianna Beahan (WA, second, 12.96) and Michelle Jenneke (NSW, third, 13.12).
Pearson’s time in the heat was her best run since the Doha Diamond League in the days before her season ending wrist injury in 2015, with her final result her fastest performance since winning silver at the Moscow 2013 IAAF World Championships.
“I’ve been nervous about this for two weeks. I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself, and I know that (the final) time was illegal but I am safe with the heat time. I’ve got the qualifier and I’m through,” Pearson said.
“I was not expecting that time. I know it’s illegal but to be able to move my legs that quickly, you still have to move that quickly, and to know that I can do that is so good. The one thing I am lacking in training is my speed endurance, I haven’t been able to do that, and to pull it off today is so special. It’s very exciting.
“I’m confident in my body now, I can challenge it. I can get the work that I need done. I haven’t had that confidence, I thought my body would break down. I think I am past that now.”
Dani Stevens (NSW), Hamish Peacock (Tas), Damien Birkinhead (Vic), Ella Nelson (NSW),Lauren Wells (ACT) and Kurtis Marschall (SA) also confirmed their start at London 2017 at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre today.
Competing in the women’s discus throw, Samuels, who narrowly missed a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last year, has cemented her spot as a contender at the IAAF World Championships with a convincing 65.07m throw to claim gold.
Opening her account with a 64.03m first attempt, the Commonwealth champion continued with 60.48m, a foul, 64.38m and a foul before her winning mark in the final round.
“It was a challenging competition with the wind and the rain. I made a big effort to refocus every throw, taking into account the conditions. This weather is possible in London so I want to make sure I’m ready for it,” Samuels said.
“This has been the best start to a season to date, I’d say. Two 66.78m throws, and a 64.50m throw that I wasn’t happy with. I didn’t hit one today, but was consistent, so it’s a good start to the season. I’m hoping I can be competitive at my next stop, the Shanghai Diamond League.”
Peacock impressed in the men’s javelin, with his winning mark of 84.34m being one of three throws beyond the IAAF World Championships qualifying standard, while the previously qualified Birkinhead hurled 19.80m to win back-to-back Australian titles in the men’s shot put and cement his position on the green and gold team.
Nelson took to the track for the women’s 200m, crossing second in a time of 23.91 (w: -2.6) as Toea Wisil (Qld) reigned supreme to ensure her victory in the sprint double. Disappointed by her result, the Olympic semi-finalist Nelson understands that team selection is most important, which she will achieve.
“I’m shocked by that result, I feel like I am in better shape than that. I’m in though. That’s the most important thing. I’ve got it done,” Nelson said.
Wells’ victory in the women’s 400m hurdles is her tenth national crown in the discipline, while Marschall cleared 5.45m in wet conditions to win the men’s pole vault and his ensure his automatic selection after clearing an equal personal best of 5.70m earlier this season.
In other results on the final day of the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships:
– Ryan Gregson (Vic) took line honours in a hard fought men’s 1500m, crossing the line in 3:52.86 to take victory from Matthew Ramsden (WA, second, 3:53.12) and Will Austin-Cray (NSW, third, 3:53.68).
– In a time of 2:05.56, Lora Storey (NSW) won her maiden national 800m crown, as Olympic 4x400m relay finalist Anneliese Rubie (NSW) claimed silver (2:05.93) andGeorgia Griffith (Vic) the bronze (2:06.00)
– Ella Pardy (WA), who has cerebral palsy, won gold in the women’s ambulant 200m in a time of 28.60 (w: -5.1), as Rio 2016 Paralympic champion James Turner(NSW) reigned supreme in the men’s event in a time of 25.01 (w: -0.1).
– With a clearance of 1.83m, Eleanor Patterson (Vic) won the women’s high jump. She shared the podium with Zoe Timmers (WA, second, 1.83m) and Clare Gibson(WA, third, 1.83m).
– The 14-year-old Sasha Zhoya (WA) won a fifth Australian Athletics Championships gold medal in junior events. His trophy cabinet includes the national crown in the under 16 pole vault, under 17 pole vault, under 16 long jump, under 16 200m and the under 17 110m hurdles.
Attention now turns to the Athletics in Australia Celebration this evening, with Athletics Australia to confirm initial selections for the London 2017 World Para-Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Championships.