The Australian Track & Field Championships have made a great start with records and personal bests galore in the junior events on the first three days of competition.
The highlight has been the pole vault exploits of 16-year-old Perth athlete Sasha Zhoya who continues to raise Australian records, but on this occasion, it was a world best.
Zhoya has been breaking hurdles, sprints, multi-event records for years, but it is the pole vault under the tutelage of Alex Parnov and Paul Burgess which has seen him make the most gains. After starting the year with a PB of 5.10m, he cleared 5.32m indoors in France, before 5.40m at the Jandakot Airport Track Classic in Perth, then an extraordinary 5.56m in Sydney at the Australian Athletics Championships on Monday to win the under-20 pole vault title.
The performance was a world under-18 best (they don’t have world records for under-18s) and also broke the 16 years world age best. He has until the end of the year to continue to improve the record.
“Amazing ! Amazing! I finally got what I wanted,” said Zhoya, still pumped from the performance.
“Yeah in Perth I was close to that 56 and ever since then I have been thinking about that 56 and I’m happy I pull it off.”
He has until the end of the year to further raise that mark, but we may not need to wait too long.
“Now I’m going to wait until the open competition and see if I can push higher.”
Zhoya has a busy week of competition competing in the under-18 200m, 110m hurdles, then the open 100m and pole vault.
“I’m looking forward to the hurdles,” said Zhoya who is the Australian record holder.
On the track, there was a much anticipated 100m race between Australia and New Zealand’s fastest under-20 men’s sprinters who have exactly the same seasonal best time. The race lived up to expectations with Jake Doran away strongly and Eddie Nketia, running for ACT, just out dipping Doran on the line as they were credited with times of 10.60 and 10.61 respectively, into a solid 1.9m/s wind.
Nketia revealed he was lucky to be on the start line.
“I was battling with my hammies. Last week it was 50/50 if I would run. I can’t believe I placed first with the hamstring problems.”
He noted how close the race was with Doran.
“It was very very close, a great competition – that is the way I like it.”
Doran, knew the headwind would favour Nketia.
“We haven’t really run into many headwinds this summer so a different race for us and obviously Eddie’s incredibly strong and I knew he was there the whole race and for him to get to me on the dip is awesome for him. He had a great race, a cracker and it is great for him to running 10.6 low into a minus wind – it is no easy feat even for the best of us. It was a good race for both of us and there was nothing in it.”
A relatively unknown junior 12 months ago, since his breakthrough race in July, Doran, still 18, has become an established senior sprinter in Australia this summer.
In the first field event on the program para-athletes, Jackson Hamilton and Corey Anderson set national records. In the under-20 para discus, Hamilton a F12 classified visually impaired athlete hit 52.01m in round five to break his own under-18 national record. Anderson broke the F38 classification (cerebral palsy) under-20 discus record with a 38.42m effort. On day two Hamilton also broke the national under-18 shot record to 14.34m.
But on day three Corey Anderson nailed the big one with a F38 javelin world record, smashing the javelin out to 54.27m.
Cherrybrook’s Samantha Dale reversed the result from last weekend’s Queensland Track Classic with a winning leap of 6.23m (windy) in the under-20 women’s long jump, ahead of Queensland’s Annie McGuire with 6.13m. Last week McGuire won with 6.30m to Dale’s 6.22m. These two 17-year-olds are leaping world U20 Championships qualifiers a year ahead of the trials.
“I’m happy with that and I knew it would be tough with Annie jumping 6.30m last week,” said Dale who was injured earlier this summer. “I didn’t expect to go this well coming back from injury. I have changed my training a little to include more strength.”
On Tuesday the men’s under-20 shot put was a thrilling event. Going into the last round South Australian Jesse Lese led Declan Carman (VIC) 17.48m to 16.68m. But on his last attempt Carman exploded the shot out to a PB 17.81m.
“I knew I had a big one in me. I’d been teasing it the whole day. I just knew I had to go in there and give it my best shot and it paid off,” said Carman.
Could Lese respond? Yes, but it was not enough with an excellent 17.70m put.
“Jesse and I are good mates so I was hoping the best for him as well, he put together a great series and kudos to him.
Declan Carman returned to the circle on Wednesday for the discus, probably his better event and won by over three metres with a throw of 55.22m.
“It is close to a PB and I’m over the moon with that throw, the consistency is there - it shows the hard work is paying off,” said Carman who is aiming for the World U20 Championships next year.
Few will forget the gutsy front running of Alex Stitt (QLD) in the under-20 men’s 1500m. From the gun he opened up a large gap on the field who were coasting around. Could they catch him? The pack chased hard over the last lap, but Stitt had too much of a lead and took the title in 3:56.39 to the cheers of the crowd who appreciated his efforts.
It is close to a PB and I’m over the moon with that throw, the consistency is there - it show the hard work is paying off.
Hope to make the World U20 team next year.
Other highlights in brief:
· An equal PB height of 4.00m for 15-year-old Cassidy Bradshaw (VIC) as she claimed the under-20 pole vault, behind NZL visitor Olivia McTaggart who cleared 4.20m.
· World U20 Championships semi-finalists Lateisha Willis (VIC) won a high quality 100m hurdles race over Isabella Reeves (WA) 13.63 to 13.76 seconds.
· With three Aussies over 70m in the U20 Javelin, it was an event of the highest standard. Oscar Sullivan (QLD) won with 71.35m over team mate Neil Janse 70.37m.
· Strong win in the U20 men’s 3000m steeplechase for Perth’s Mj Jansen van Rensburg, taking the title by 22 seconds in 9:08.05.
· Sean Szalek (WA) claimed the U20 high jump on countback from Simioluwa Thomsen-Ajayi (QLD) with both clearing 2.14m
· Unitty Ta'Uo (NSW) U15 hammer throw 48.20m
· Milly Boughton (NSW) U14 3000m walk 14:26.12
· Sasha Zhoya (WA) U20 pole vault 5.56m
· Jayda Anderson (QLD) U15 3000m Walk 13:49.89
· Toby Wilks (SA) U15 3000m walk 13:16.17
· PJ Carlin (SA) U14 Hammer Throw 50.34m
· Chelsea Ezeoke (NSW) U14 400m 56.42
· Delta Amidzovski (NSW) U14 long jump 5.64m