Fantastic walking conditions greeted the world-class lineup in the Oceania and Australian Race-Walking Championships in Adelaide at War Memorial Drive.
In the men’s 20km race, it was Perseus Karlstrom from Sweden who crossed the line first in 1:20.05, followed by Queenslander Dane Bird-Smith (1:20.52) and Eider Arevalo (1:21.36) from Colombia.
In the women’s 20km race, it was Sandra Lorenas from Colombia who won the race in 1:28.49, followed by Queenslander Katie Hayward (1:29.25) and Victorian Jemima Montag (1:30.51).
Dane Bird-Smith set a cracking pace early in the men’s race, going through the first 10km in 40.49 and was ahead of second place by over 40 seconds. He was eventually chased-down with just 4km to go but was very pleased with his performance.
“I was really happy to go through at an even pace the whole race,” Bird-Smith said after the race.
“It’s a great way to start off the year I guess, coming off the back of relatively low amount of training, just working through a bit of a tendon reaction from December and then getting into some pretty sporadic training.
“I wasn’t too fussed as Percy (Perseus Karlstrom) came past, I was a bit like there isn’t much point in trying to chase him down, I figured I would just get through the race and be the first Aussie home and I got a world qualifier – so job done, I’m very happy.”
Commonwealth Games Gold medalist - Bird Smith’s next major race is the 10,000m National Championships in April and after today’s race says he has one major goal.
“My old man still has that record at 38.21 and I’m 10 seconds off that pace (as of PB last year) – so 10 seconds over 10km, its actually quite a lot to chase down but he still gives me a whole heap of niggle about it at the dinner table, so I’m pretty keen to get it and break it,” Bird-Smith said.
Sandra Lorenas, Katie Hayward and Jemima Montag set the pace in the women 20km Championship – remaining together until the 16km mark. But over the last few kilometres, Sandra Lorenas proved too strong and broke away to take the win.
But it was Queenslander Katie Hayward who was the talk of the town at War Memorial Drive in Adelaide, her time of 1:29.25 is the fastest ever by an Australian female on home soil and third fastest time over 20km by any Australian girl.
“I had no idea it was the third fastest Australian time and I’ve just heard about it – so I’m ecstatic,
“I actually found the race really fun, which is kind of weird but it was hard and I’m glad it’s finished,” said Hayward.
Not only was her time the fastest time by an Australian in seven years, it was also a World University and a World Championship qualifier.
“World Uni’s and World Champs are my major goals now, but I also have the IAAF Asian Championships in Japan next month which will be my second 20km race and then aiming for Sydney in April,” Hayward said.
The morning also held the U20 10km Oceania Race-Walking Championship and a Under 18 Invitational 5km Race Walk, the 10km Championships was taken out by Jan Moreu (43:53) with second Oscar Tebbutt (44:19) and Tristan Camilleri (44:27) in third.
The 5km Championship was won by Toby Wilks (23:43), second was Olivia Sandery (25:19) and third was Kiera Ross (27:05).
The full results from the Oceania and Australian Race-Walking Championships can be seen here: