History was made on day seven of the Australian Track and Field Championships which concluded at Homebush today. Naa Anang and Celeste Mucci achieved rare doubles, while Lauren Wells with her 12th title and Alwyn Jones with his 10th have stamped their names into the history of their events.
After winning the 100m last evening, could Naa Anang (Qld) win the long jump against world number five in 2018 – Brooke Stratton? It looked clear she could when on the very first jump she leapt a PB of 6.81m, ahead of a wind assisted 6.88m in round two. Stratton rallied by round five with a respectable 6.70m, but the win and a piece of history was sealed by Anang as she became the first woman in the 70-year history of the championships to claim this double.
“I was hoping I could back it up after the 100m last night,” said Anang. “I’m really happy I could and pleased with the PB.”
One of the highest standard events was the women’s 800m and it basically went to the form guide, with favourite Catriona Bisset (VIC) winning in a brilliant time of 2:00.48, elevating her to tenth fastest Australian ever.
But she was surprised with her time.
“I was shocked. I had no idea I’d get a qualifier, that’s completely not in the plan for the year.”
The slow first lap means she evenly split the race, an extraordinary achievement.
“I got a bit scared I think, coming through the bell seeing that 60 second time because I wanted to go through in a bit faster. So, I kicked down around the 400m to go and then was thinking ‘I’ve just got to keep holding onto this’.”
There were fast times for the medallists too with Georgia Griffith (VIC) clocking a season’s best of 2:01.26 and Morgan Mitchell third in a two second PB time of 2:01.60 - her fourth consecutive PB this summer.
After running 55 seconds in the 400m hurdles for the last nine consecutive years, dual Olympian Lauren Wells broke through with a time of 54.87 to win her 12th national 400m hurdles title. It was also her third world championships qualifier this summer.
Wells confirmed she didn’t come to just cruise at this meet.
“A lot of people said coming into this ‘I’ve got my qualifier, it’s just about placing.”
Another athlete who claimed a double was teenager Celeste Mucci (VIC). After winning the heptathlon on Thursday and Friday with a good score of 5844 points, she rested on Saturday ahead of lining up in the 100m hurdles on Sunday. After Sally Pearson withdrew from the hurdles final, the event was thrown wide open and few may recall that Mucci already had a win over her main rivals Michelle Jenneke and Brianna Beahan on the same track at the Sydney Track Classic. And she was again the victor clocking a massive personal best time of 13.09 to become the eighth fastest in Australian history.
She also became the first athlete to claim this double since Jane Flemming in 1994.
She was very emotional when her close win was confirmed.
“Yeah it does feel great to win,” she said. “I really wanted to be fresh for this race, but knowing I wasn’t going to be, I had to dig deep to find some adrenaline.”
She was located a few hurdles form Jenneke and Beahan and next to the vacant Pearson lane.
“I got a pretty average start, I just had to work my way through and make sure that I had a clean race to the end.”
She revealed she was still suffering from the gruelling heptathlon.
“I was feeling alright yesterday on my rest day, and then this morning I woke up sore. I just had to run on a lot of adrenaline in the heat and manage a quick turnaround for the final.”
On of the most intriguing battles was going to be the 1500m between Luke Mathews, Ryan Gregson, Matt Ramsden and Rorey Hunter. After a slow tactical race it all happen at the bell with the pace picking up, but in the home straight the young legs of Mathews were too strong with Hunter the closest in third and Ramsden, who raced last week at the world cross country championships, in fourth. Mathews’ time was 3:43.15.
Mathews said he was ready for whatever pace the race went at.
“Like I said to mum, ‘I was prepared if it was going to be run at 3:33 pace and I was prepared if it was going to be won in four minutes with a 50 second last lap’.
“We’ve just been training under race pace and what it’s like to get lactic and keep running harder. No matter what situation - I was ready, but when I was leading the first 800m I was licking my lips. I was like ‘this has just played out perfectly’.”
The men’s 3000m steeplechase in 2019 has shown growing depth this year. The lead athlete has been SA’s Max Stevens, with the fastest times in 2018 and 2019 – but he craved a title to justify his number one national status and he succeeded taking the national title.
“First national title ever, so I’m over the moon,” he said. “I finished second last year, I got so close and then held the top ranking and came here as the fastest man in 2019.”
His race-strategy was to remain relaxed.
“I just tried to act as if we were just having a jog around back home and just trying to stay as relaxed as I could.”
Approaching the bell Stevens broke away and ran hard for home to win in 8:39.31, four seconds ahead of five-time winner, James Nipperess.
- Travelling from over the ditch, 2017 world champion, Tom Walsh (NZL), was awesome in the shot put. Every put exceeded 21 metres with his best 21.91m. He revealed he is aiming for the world record this year. “I think the world record has been around for too long. If I don’t do it someone else will soon enough. I’m going to have a red-hot crack at that in the next six months.”
- Just off the plane from the world cross country, Paige Campbell (NSW) claimed her first national title, the 3000m steeplechase in a good time of 9:49.68. “I thought it was unlikely I get the world champs standard today, just with the cross country. We flew in on Tuesday and there was been lots of sleeping and resting.”
- Alex Hartmann (QLD) won his fifth consecutive 200m national title, but was not too happy. Average to be honest. I got a bit tight, it wasn’t the best.”
- Nick Hough (NSW) ran his fastest time for two years outside the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning the 110m hurdles in 13.55 seconds. “It’s good to come out, have a fairly clean race. Only a tenth out of the qualifier, I should be able to get it in Asia or Europe.”
- Nicola McDermott (NSW) cleared her second-best ever height of her career, negotiating 1.92m to win the high jump, before missing attempts at 1.95m.
- Henry Smith (VIC) capped a tremendous season where he has improved 28 cm, with the national long jump title leap of 7.90m, ahead of training partner Chris Mitreviski (VIC, 7.83m) and junior Josh Crowley (QLD) with 7.79m.
Our Live Stream coverage across the week received more than 300,000 views with the event highlights posted across our social platforms recording well over 1 million views.
Over the weekend we recorded a cumulative digital reach of 4.1 million people.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia