Long jumper Henry Frayne was again in superb form at the Golden Gala Diamond League held in Stadio Olimpico in Rome overnight. Frayne placed sixth with a best jump of 8.15m behind London 2017 World Champion Luvo Manyonga from South Africa whose 8.58m was a world lead. Frayne now sits in third place on the Diamond League Points race for the event.
It was a hot competition as 19-year-old Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria went 8.53m in second. No one has jumped that far for the runner-up position since 2009.
“It was a very frustrating competition. I felt great, the atmosphere was great and I should have jumped big but unfortunately, I didn’t have access to Gary as the stand is so far away so it made mid-competition adjustments impossible,” said Frayne.
“However that’s no excuse. The positives are that 8.15m is now confirmed as my safety jump distance. I am jumping 8m comfortably and easily.” said Frayne who equalled his best leap this international campaign (Shanghai).
“On a general note the meet was great, the long jump was exceptional & long jump is at the forefront of the athletics world,” said Frayne.
Most importantly for Frayne, he pulled up healthy, with injuries having hampered his international career to this point.
“My body feels better with every competition and I am without issue after this competition.”
Coach Bourne was also upbeat about the state of Frayne’s sometimes fragile frame.
“It’s Henry’s first competition in five years where he did not feel he was about to tear something running down the runway. His body seems to have really agreed with Italian Physio treatment techniques.”
“He seems to have pulled up well & we will work to solve as many of the problems we can before Stockholm.”
Looking ahead to Stockholm Frayne was excited…
“I’m hungry for a big jump and I’m excited to compete again.
Frayne thought it was a wasted opportunity and looking more closely said that the “over-striding in my acceleration and decelerating in my final strides.” were areas to improve on.
Frayne’s longtime coach Gary Bourne gave an honest assessment of his talented charge.
“8.15m early in the comp when he slowed down a lot & steered to the board indicated he was in for a good night. Some bad luck with quite fluctuating winds upset his rhythm in these early stages of preparation where he has not had sufficient practice on the runway.”
The Stockholm meeting is a haven for big jumps and Frayne will be looking to emulate the performance of former stablemate Mitchell Watt who set the Australian record of 8.54m at the stadium in 2011.
Melbourne Track Club veteran Ryan Gregson was brave in the men's 1500m, attacking the race from the start. Following an uncharacteristically conservative 56.95 opening lap from Kenyan pace crew of Jackson Kivuva and Collins Cheboi, tailed closely by their dominant countrymen Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi
, Gregson found himself in limbo, as the lead pack charged ahead with a 55.75 second
Gregson decided he wouldn’t be left wondering what might’ve been, working tirelessly to inch toward the lead pack, bravely ignoring the more conservative chasing group. After going through the bell in fifth, Gregson faded over the final 400m to place 11th in 3.38.85 behind Cheruiyot’s world-leading winning time of 3.31.22.
Qatari hurdling sensation Abderrahman Samba highlighted a star-studded meet, breaking his own Diamond League record, breaking the meet record and the Qatari national record in the process, a 47.48sec performance moving to equal 14th on the all-time 400m hurdles list. World Champion Karsten Warholm broke his own Norweigan national record, placing second in 47.82sec.
The international focus now moves to the FBK Games in Hengelo, where Joseph Deng races over 800 metres in an experienced field. Paced by Diamond League regular Bram Som, fresh from rabbit duties at the Rome Diamond League, the race is sure to be a fast one, an opportunity Deng’s coach, Justin Rinaldi, knows the youngster is excited for.
“In terms of racing, it’s important to hit the ground running and attack the race. We won’t use this race as a rust buster, as it’s a wasted opportunity when you are competing at this level. Without going in with a time goal, Joseph is hoping to run a personal best first up,
and will aim to put himself as close to the lead as possible, regardless of the pace.
FBK Games, Hengelo, Sunday June 3: result updates will be provided via Athletics Australia’s Twitter account @AthsAust.
Sean Whipp for Athletics Australia.
Image: Henry Frayne and coach Gary Bourne.