Hobart (Tas) has been declared the home of shot put after record breaking performances by both Damien Birkinhead (Vic) and Todd Hodgetts (Tas) at the Briggs Athletics Classic.
Throwing a meet record, personal best and Rio 2016 qualifier, Birkinhead’s best mark of 21.21m moves him to second on the Australian All-Time List at just five centimetres shy of the impressive national record held by his coach Scott Martin.
The monster throw would have seen the 22-year-old place fourth at the London 2012 Olympic Games and continues the meteoric start to his summer of athletics after hurling a then career best and Olympic standard of 20.80m in Christchurch (NZL) last week.
“It’s unbelievable really. Last week my PB was 20.40m and now I’ve thrown 21.21m. I have had an amazing seven days. I didn’t imagine I’d be throwing like this right now. I’m honestly speechless,” Birkinhead said.
“We’ve set my program to sort of peak around now and through to Nationals. I’m in a good routine and have built up over time to where I am now. To see these results is a real boost after the work we’ve put in.”
“I was probably a bit hot headed in the first round, but Scotty told me to relax and refocus from there and then I found myself out past 21(metres). It just got better and better.”
Not to be outdone, Hodgett’s best effort of 16.33m improves the F20 para-athletics world record for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Continuing the form that saw him win gold at the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, the reigning Paralympic champion has continued success in his sights this season as he prepares for Rio 2016.
“I didn’t think it went that far. It felt like a terrible throw, I thought I’d missed hitting it right, so to see the mark was great. There’s bigger things to come for sure. It’s great,” Hodgetts said.
“I don’t think a world record has been broken in athletics in Tasmania so to lay claim to that is pretty amazing.”
In other field results, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hamish Peacock (Tas) threw 80.12m in the final round to take victory in the men’s javelin. He will next compete at the Canberra Track Classic on Saturday 20 February.
On track, Ryan Gregson (Vic) was convincing, bettering his own meet record to win the men’s 1500m in a time of 3:36.73 from rising middle distance star Luke Mathews (Vic, 3:37.31). Paced through the first 800m by Ryan Foster (Tas), the Melbourne Track Club duo then battled it out in the closing stages, with Mathews passed by Gregson on the final bend.
Gregson’s result is a mere 0.73 seconds outside of the Rio 2016 standard, while Mathews improved his personal best by more than three seconds to add to his quick 1:46.35 run in the 800m at the Hunter Track Classic last month.
“I set the meet record here back in 2010 and went on to break the national record that year. I think I am in great shape. Full credit to Luke, he was the star of the show with his run for a personal best. Now it’s on to the 1500m in Melbourne in a couple of weeks,” Gregson said.
In other results from the Briggs Athletics Classic:
– Lining up for the men’s 100m twice, Jack Hale (Tas) clocked 10.66 (w: -0.2) and 10.55 (w: -0.6) to win both his starts. He will start in the boy’s under 20 sprints at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Perth (WA).
– Sam McEntee (WA) clocked 13:42.78 to win the men’s 5000m, as Stewart McSweyn (Tas) ran 13:45.79 to lower the Tasmanian state record set in 1978.
– The women’s 5000m was won by Genevieve LaCaze (Vic) in a personal best time of 15:41.74, with Victoria Mitchell (NSW) second in 15:53.61.
To view and download results from the Briggs Athletics Classic, the third instalment of the Australian Athletics Tour, please click here.
WATT RETURNS TO LONG JUMP RUNWAY
London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Mitchell Watt (Qld) has returned to the long jump runway for the first time in more than two years.
Competing at the Don Kirby Invitational, an indoor meet in Albuquerque (USA), Watt’s performance of 7.83m ensured his victory from Frederick Norris (USA, second, 7.79m) andKendall Spencer (USA, third, 7.75m).
Watt is a four-time major championship medallist (two silver, two bronze) and the Australian record holder. His start today follows his relocation to Phoenix (USA) to work with renowned coach Dan Pfaff alongside his green and gold teammate Fabrice Lapierre (NSW).
The Australian Athletics Tour continues in Canberra (ACT) and Adelaide (SA) on Saturday 20 February, with national record holders Alana Boyd (Qld, pole vault) and Alex Rowe (Vic, 800m) headlining action in the South Australian capital as Olympic qualified sprinters Josh Clarke (NSW, 100m), Ella Nelson (NSW, 200m) and Alex Hartmann (Qld, 200m) starting at the Australian Institute of Sport.
To view and download entry lists, please visit the #SUMMERofATHS hub by clicking here.