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Day Ten: Stevens throws for gold, Bird-Smith confident

Sunday, 13 August 2017 | Athletics Australia

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Dani Stevens (NSW) is planning on an aggressive approach when she steps inside the thrower's circle on the final day of competition at the world championship in London.

The 29-year-old is determined not to compete in fear and is in fine form as she eyes off a second world title after only needing just one throw of 65.56 metres in qualifying to make the final.

Her win in 2009 at the Berlin championships put her amongst elite company as one of only nine athletes (includes Valerie Adams, Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jana Pittman) to have won world championships at the youth, junior and senior level.

Stevens' personal best of 67.99m is capable of winning gold in any competition and is just 73 centimetres off the national record set by Daniela Costian in 1994.

Stevens, a 12-time national discus champion, placed a valiant fourth at the Rio Olympics last year, just missing out on a bronze medal.

Since then she has evaluated her performance from Brazil and comes into the English capital for these championships more relaxed and with a strong season’s best of 66.78 metres.

“I went back and looked at the footage,” Stevens told The Australian of her Olympic performance.

“In qualifying, that was really, really tough but you can see it on my face that I was determined. You would have guessed that I was going to do it then.


“But then I came out in the final… a couple of weeks later I went back and watched the footage and I was red in the face.

“You could just see it on my face that I was throwing out of fear and not out of aggression or happiness or those kind of things that really work for me.”

Croatian thrower Sandra Perkovic will be one of the favourites with a season’s best of 71.41 as will Yaime Perez from Cuba who has a best of 69.19 metres in 2017.

Earlier in the day, Dane Bird-Smith will contest the 20km Walk a year after winning an Olympic bronze medal in Rio.

The 25-year-old walked a personal best that day in Brazil of 1:19.37 and equalled that mark at a race in Adelaide earlier this year.

“I haven’t raced since February where I did an equal 20km PB to Rio,” Bird-Smith told the Herald Sun. 

“My training since then I have been doing university at the same time so I haven’t come overseas much but I have been ticking off my training and going really, really well.

“I’ve been at a higher standard than last year.

“(At Tonbridge camp) I decided to do a little time trial. The wind kicked up, the rain kicked up and I still put a five second PB down and broke the Australian record by another five seconds.

“So I am in shape.”

Fellow race walker Rhydian Cowley, who placed 33rd at the Olympics in Rio, will also take to the streets of London in the 20km event with a personal best of 1:22.07 last year in Adelaide.

In the women’s race two-time Olympian and world championships representative from 2011 Regan Lamble will compete in green and gold.

Joining her will be London Olympic representative Beki Smith and two-time Olympian and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Claire Tallent, who gave birth only three months ago.

 
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