Melbourne, Australia The rain came back and so did Craig Mottram at the Qantas Melbourne Track Classic (3), the 2005 IAAF World Championships bronze medallist ending a long period of frustration with a resounding victory in the 5000 metres.
Rain had swept Melbourne most of the day of the meeting, clearing as if by magic as the meeting, the first leg of the 2012 IAAF World Challenge global series of invitational meetings, got under way.
The weather gods smiled as Sally Pearson ran her fourth-fastest time ever for 100 metres Hurdles and equalled her personal best for 200m. They nodded benignly as David Rudisha opened his season with an imperious victory in the 800 metres.
Mottram books Olympic berth
But the rain returned to Lakeside stadium pretty much as the 5000 got under way. It did not dampen enthusiasm, however. Melbourne loves its distance running and this race brought together a strong domestic field with an Olympic place on the line, with a seasoning of internationals.
All others fell by the wayside as the rain tumbled down and the race turned into a five-lap burnout between Collis Birmingham and Mottram. Birmingham surged hard with five laps to go, again with three laps to go, but could not dislodge his opponent.
Mottram sprinted past in the back-straight with 300 metres to go and had time to pump his fist in triumph and yell in elation during a 28-second final 200 which took him to a 13:18.58 victory and an automatic nomination to the Australian Olympic team.
“I’m a passionate athlete, always have been,” said Mottram of his celebration. He said there was five months to go to the Olympics and he had a lot of work to do, but his aim was to better his best Olympic result of eighth in Athens in 2004.
Rudisha surges to a 1:44.33
David Rudisha has delivered the goods for the Melbourne meeting three years in a row now, a 1:43.15 in 2010, a 1:43.88 last year, and now another race, another win.
The World champion and World record holder ran ‘only’ 1:44.33 on this occasion, but it was a victory which saw him control the race in similar manner to his World Championships gold medal in Daegu.
Rudisha was five metres off Sammy Tangui’s heels at the bell (Tangui 50.78), and looked as if he might be challenged off the final bend as three pursuers – Universiade champion Lachlan Renshaw, James Gurr and Jeff Riseley – battled for the domestic honours.
One little surge, however, and two metres became five, became 10 and it was all ove. Rudisha crossed the line 10 metres clear of Riseley (1:45.62) and Renshaw (1:46.06).
Riseley passed the other two up the straight, an important minor victory for him as it assured him of automatic nomination to the Olympic team in this event.
Rudisha said he had been expecting a race of 1:43-44 and “being a fast race I did not want to push too hard.
“I wanted to run and feel how the pressure felt. It was good. I’ll go back to Keny now and train. I know what I have to work on.”
Another big night’s work for Pearson
Sally Pearson must have been the only person in Melbourne to wake up pleased to see the rain tumbling down.
“I knew it might mean a wet track,” she said, “but I also knew there would be no wind.”
There was a slight breeze, but instead of it being in Pearson’s face as it has been pretty well every race this year, it was at her back.
Yvette Lewis had come out from the States after failing to make the US team for Istanbul. Her time was faster than any Pearson rival this domestic season - 13.22 – but her fate the same. She watched the Australia’s back disappearing step-by-step from the blocks.
Pearson ran 12.49 – her fourth-fastest time ever and better than her personal best at the start of 2011. It was a faultless exhibition. She felt after hitting the last hurdle in Sydney in running 13.66 that there was another 0.1 there.
On this, a t least, Pearson was wrong. There was not one metre left in the tank, but almost two.
As she has all last season and this, Pearson came back to run and win the 200. Again the 23-second barrier defied her assault, but her 23.02 equalled her personal best.
Bannister back with 82.97
Jarrod Bannister had not competed all season but he clearly had not been just sitting around. The Daegu sixth place finisher threw 82.97 metres to finish two metres clear of Stuart Farquhar of New Zealand.
Ireland’s Joanne Cuddihy continued her winning form in the women’s 400 metres, her 52.37 seconds holding off the strong finish of Tamsyn Manou (52.77).
Len Johnson for the IAAF
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