All five Australian wheelchair racers had great success at the Swiss Nationals on the weekend to conclude a fantastic three-meet series.
There were more personal bests and podium finishes from the Aussies in Nottwil, Switzerland. Louise Sauvage, the former racing legend and head coach for the series, wrapped up the World Para Grand Prix last weekend, the one-day meet on Thursday and the Swiss Nationals by saying
“In conclusion a very successful trip against the world’s best, with race experiences gained and some fast times. We could not ask for more!”
At the Swiss Nationals, dual Commonwealth Games champion Madison de Rozario again raced brilliantly to claim gold in the 400m (T53), and 800m, 1500m and 5000m (T53-54).
In the 1500m on Saturday she won in 3 minutes 25.25, ahead of Swiss champion Manuela Schar (3:25.84) and American Paralympic champion Tatyana McFadden (3:27.16). This performance followed de Rozario equalling McFadden’s world record of 3:13.27 last weekend. Australian teammate Eliza Ault-Connell (nee Stankovic) produced a personal best (3:27.87) for fifth overall on Saturday.
Related story - World records to McCracken and de Rozario in Nottwil, Switzerland
On Sunday, de Rozario again beat her T54 competitors in a fascinating 5000m. She won the tactical encounter on the line in 11:27.46, over Schar (11:27.68), McFadden (11:28.96). Ault-Connell again raced a personal best, (11:37.36) for fourth.
In the 800m de Rozario’s T53 time of 1:49.98 claimed gold over Schar (T54) 1:47.49 and McFadden (T54) in 1:47.83 for bronze. Ault-Connell was fifth overall in 1:48.66.
De Rozario also won the T53 400m in 55.58 seconds on Saturday.
The Swiss Series were Ault-Connell’s first competitions overseas since 2006 and across the series she produced personal bests for the 400m, 800m (Australian record), 1500m and 5000m.
Other landmark performances at the Swiss Nationals for Australia included, gold to Sam Carter in the T54 100m (14.18) and fourth in the 200m (25.33).
Teammate Luke Bailey (T54) concluded his first series of races in Switzerland with a personal best in the 200m of 26.82 seconds. Robyn Lambird (T34) produced another personal best. This time in the 800m (2:26.09) for silver and 100m bronze (20.09).
Rheed McCraken (T34) did not race the Swiss Nationals. He concluded his racing in Switzerland on Thursday at the Daniela Jutzler Memorial with gold in the 100m, just outside his world record from the previous weekend. And gold in the 200m and a great silver in the 800m.
The Swiss Series was the biggest track competition of the year for these athletes. “I believe the Swiss Series is always a great competition to come to,” Sauvage said.
“It’s well run on a fast track and a very good representation of top quality athletes. It has been a part of our calendar for so many years now and we come back every year.
“We had a small group this year but some quality performances from all with many, many PB’s and two world records as well.
“It was well worth the trip with first time experience for Luke, Eliza back to racing internationally and mixing it with the best, Robyn also improving. Madison and Rheed again showed they are stars of the sport.”
Some athletes will now take a break and then get back into base training ahead of the Australian summer season. De Rozario and Ault-Connell will both contest the Gold Coast marathon on 1 July.
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia
Image: Madison de Rozario and Eliza Ault-Connell (Getty images)
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Parathletics Nottwil | Full Results including 2018 Swiss Nationals