London and the IAAF World Championships are calling for the Australian men’s 4x100m and women’s 4x400m relay teams after they ensured their automatic entry by advancing to the medals round at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau (BAH) earlier today.
Not to be outdone in the women’s 4x800m relay were Lora Storey (NSW), Abbey de la Motte (Tas), Zoe Buckman (Vic) and Heidi See (NSW), with the middle distance quartet combining for BRONZE in a time of 8:21.08.
Lining up in heat one of the men’s sprint relay, the green and gold team of Trae Williams (Qld), Tom Gamble (Qld), Alex Hartmann (Qld) and Nick Andrews (NSW) took to the blocks in lane six.
Smooth changes saw them move past Jamaica and Antigua & Barbuda, who did not finish, before surging up the home straight to cross third behind the Netherlands (38.71) and China (38.97) in a time of 39.09.
An anxious wait followed, before official results after heat three confirmed Australia’s progression as the fastest non-automatic qualifier. The order remained unchanged for the final, with Andrews roaring home to cross fourth and narrowly miss a medal in a time of 39.79, with America (first, 38.43), Barbados (second, 39.18) and China (third, 39.22) sharing the dais.
Impressed by the confidence of the developing team, Athletics Australia Head Coach, Craig Hilliard, looks forward to welcoming a men’s sprint relay team to an IAAF World Championships team for the first time since 2011.
“The 4x100m boys were outstanding. They are a young team, working together as a squad for just over a year, and today they’ve been unnerved by the pressure of the environment to ensure their automatic entry to the IAAF World Championships,” Hilliard said.
Hilliard praised team coach, Adam Larcom, and the continued support of Commonwealth Games Australia through the Gold Coast GOLD Relay Program in delivering today’s impressive result.
“It’s a great outcome and a testament to their efforts alongside Adam,” Hilliard said.
“The team’s preparations for Nassau this year have been made possible by the Gold Coast GOLD Relay Program and if they continue to work together as diligently as they have in recent months they’ll be a fantastic example of the results that come from hard work and a great environment.”
In the women’s 4x400m relay heats that followed, Australia’s starting line-up of Morgan Mitchell (Vic), Anneliese Rubie (NSW), Ella Nelson (NSW) and Olivia Tauro (NSW) were dominant alongside America to cross second and automatically progress to the round-of-eight.
The national 400m champion, Mitchell was strong on the first leg, passing the baton to Rubie with a narrow lead before the latter slipped to second but built a large gap to the rest of the field. Nelson and Tauro maintained the clearance from third to see the team finish in a season best time of 3:30.31.
The final will be held tomorrow, and so long as Team Australia avoid being disqualified or not finishing they will be London-bound for the IAAF World Championships.
“The 4x400m women are becoming a genuine challenger on the world stage. They automatically qualified for Rio 2016 at the IAAF World Relays two years ago, went on to make a final at the Olympic Games and should now run confidently tomorrow ensure their start at the IAAF World Championships this year,” Hilliard added.
“We have great depth in the women’s 400m at the moment. Ella and Olivia, who ran today, did not run in the Olympic final, and we’ve got a great mix of experienced and developing athletes that are not in Nassau but capable of slotting into the team as required. It’s an exciting time.”
Equally impressive were the women’s 4x800m relay, who won bronze in the women’s 4x800m relay in a time of 8:21.08.
Led out by the national champion, Storey, the team sat second at the changeover to de la Motte who was strong down the back straight on her second lap to hand the baton to Buckman in the lead.
It was then that eventual gold medallists, America (8:16.36), made their move to the front, before See delivered a strong final leg to hold on to the third spot, with Belarus (8:20.07) winning silver.
The IAAF World Relays continue tomorrow, with the final of the women’s 4x400m relay and the men’s 4x800m relay to feature green and gold contingents.
For more information, including entry lists and the event timetable, please click here to visit iaaf.org.
The IAAF World Relays will continue to be broadcast live on Eurosport Australia from 9:30am AEDT on and Monday 24 April.
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Australia were led by Lisa Weightman who ran a personal best of 2:25:15 for fifth place and the first non-African women to cross the line in the English capital.
Jess Trengove was next in 2:27:01 finishing tenth with a new personal best ahead of fellow Australian runners Melanie Panayiotou (2:35:25) and debutant Casey Wood (2:39:27).
In the men's race Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru took the win ahead of the great Kenenisa Bekele in 2:05:48, with Michael Shelley running 2:11:38 just outside his personal best.
Over in the Hamburg Marathon it was Brad Milosovic who posted a world championship's qualifier with a time just outside his best of 2:16:24.