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National News

Commonwealth Games qualifiers aplenty at Hunter Track Classic

Saturday, 20 January 2018 | Jane Aubrey

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Rio Olympian Linden Hall was impressive in the performance of the meet at the Hunter Track Classic, winning the women’s 5000m in a Commonwealth Games A qualifying and world leading time of 15:18.77.

The 1500m specialist finished ahead of the ACT’s Emily Brichacek (15:46.58) and Victoria’s Melissa Duncan (15:52.89).

Hall, Duncan and Brichacek had a comfortable 50 metre gap on the rest of the field at the 1400m mark with consistent 74 second laps. While Brichacek in her second race back from a 15-month layoff through injury gradually fell back from the lead two, it was Duncan who could no longer stick with Hall, as the Olympic semi-finalist ran unchallenged to the finish line.

The 26-year-old said that there was no danger of her running the longer distance on a more permanent basis though the race was a good sign with Commonwealth Games nomination on the horizon.

“I think I’ll stick with the 1500m for a bit longer,” said Hall. “It’s nice to have a new challenge and an event you can have a new PB in makes you feel good going into the rest of the season.”

Hall said that she would target next weekend’s ACT Athletics Championships in “a quick turn-around,” to solidify her prospects for Commonwealth Games selection.

Ed Goddard (NSW) upset favourite Brad Milosevic (NSW) in the men’s 5000m, surging ahead of his more fancied rival in the final 300m to claim victory in a new personal best time of 14:07.24.

Morgan Mitchell (Vic) was untroubled in her fourth win in four years at the Hunter Track Classic, running just outside of a Commonwealth Games B qualifier with 52.77 head of NSW pair Carley Thomas (54.83) and Sara Klein (56.17). With three A qualifiers already in the bag from 2017, Mitchell said that she was pleased with the night’s performance.

“It’s been a long season. It was off to a rocky start, but I think we’re getting it together now,” she said. “I’ve been hammering myself in training so to run the way I did tonight after one of the hardest blocks I’ve ever had I’m pretty happy.

“We’re just trying to chill for a bit – you don’t win medals in January.”

Damien Birkinhead (Vic) added to his list of Commonwealth Games qualifying marks in the men’s shot put, this time with a B standard throw of 19.55m.

In the men’s 1500m, world championship representative Morgan McDonald (NSW) showed some decent early season form, with a final surge in the final 200m in a come-from-behind victory. His run of 3:39.14 earned the 5000m specialist a Commonwealth Games B qualifier in what was the US-based runner’s first race since London 2017.

“It was tough – the first race of the season is always going to be like that, but I just wanted a good hit out leading into Nationals and the trials to get me ready for the 5000m, so it was perfect for that, it was really good.

McDonald logged an A qualifier last July, and is likely to face strong competition from the likes of Pat Tiernan and Stewart McSweyn for a start at Gold Coast 2018 with just two spots guaranteed while a third would be discretionary.

“That race is going to be a lot of fun at nationals,” the 22-year-old said. “I’m going to try and win it but it’s not going to be easy so that’s what I’m getting ready for right now.”

In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Paige Campbell (NSW) stormed home in a time of 9:49.60, moving her into the sixth-fastest on the Australian all-time list. Campbell’s time, ahead of NSW’s Victoria Mitchell (9:53.28) and Victoria’s Charlotte Wilson (9:55.53) was good enough for a Commonwealth Games B qualifier, and seven seconds short of the A mark.

Meantime, at the Western Australia Athletics Championships Kurtis Marschall’s excellent form continues following his qualification (5.78m) for the IAAF World Indoor Championships last weekend.

Marschall jumped to 5.80 on Saturday evening, bumping him up to equal fifth on the Australian all-time list, with Steve Hooker, Dmitri Markov, Paul Burgess and Viktor Chistiakov ahead of him. It's the best jump in the world outdoors this season.

Back on the east coast and the nation’s capital was hosting the Summer Down Under and Canberra Track Meet.

Kurt Fearnley showed he is in top shape after a quick 3:01.41 T54 1500m CG A qualifier while world bronze T54 1500m medallist Madison de Rozario won the women’s 1500m event with a time of 3:35.17, ahead of 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Angie Ballard in 3:37.01 and Jemima Moore 3.38.46 – all under the Commonwealth Games B standard. De Rozario made it two wins for the night also taking out the T54 5000m

Turning back the years, two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Eliza Ault-Connell (NSW) won the T54 100m and 400m sprint double over former T53 world record holder, Ballard.

The men’s 100m was won by Rohan Browning (NSW) in a time of 10.25 (-0.2) ahead of Alex Hartmann (Qld) in 10.41 and John Gikas (NSW) in 10.65. Maddie Coates (Vic) won the women’s event in 11.72 ahead of Victoria’s Jess Peris (11.78) and the ACT’s Melissa Breen (11.79).

On the field, Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) showed great consistency in the javelin with all six attempts over the Commonwealth Games B standard highlighted by a best of 60.12m, just below the A to win that competition.

Lauren Wells (ACT) posted a B qualifier of 6.39m (+0.6) in the women’s long jump while in the men’s event, Chris Mitreveski (Vic) also landed a B qualifier, his jump a 7.91m (0.0).

 
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