03 MAR 2012 General News Melbourne, Australia

Abdi ticks all the boxes - Australian Olympic Trials, Day 2

Youcef Abdi competing in the 2011 World Champs in Daegu (Getty Images)Youcef Abdi competing in the 2011 World Champs in Daegu (Getty Images) © Copyright

Left off the Sydney 2000 Olympic team despite winning both the 1500 metres selection races, sixth in the 3000m Steeplechase final in Beijing eight years later, Youcef Abdi made sure of his place in the London 2012 team with a win in today’s Australian Olympic trials (3).


Abdi had bettered the Olympic A-standard three times and needed only to win the trial to become an automatic nomination to the team. Leading all the way, Abdi held off a late charge from Peter Nowill to win, eight minutes 35.29 seconds to 8:35.76.


It looked closer than it was, but a photo-finish win would have sufficed for Abdi who joined Craig Mottram and Jeff Riseley in adding their names to the list of automatic nominations to the team.


Boyd and Samuels among those left to wait until Tuesday at least


Others had more trouble dotting the final ‘i’ and crossing the final ‘t’, notably Alana Boyd. One of the stars of the Australian season, having cleared 4.60-plus three times and then an Australian record 4.76 in Perth last week, Boyd cleared just 4.45 this night and lost on countback to Liz Parnov at the same height.


“I don’t know how it happened,” said a disappointed Boyd. “I can’t explain it. It just wasn’t my day.”


No-one doubts Boyd will end up in the team, probably as early as Tuesday when the first batch of nominations go to the Australian Olympic Committee. Parnov will most likely join her, as she has also achieved the Olympic standard 4.50 this season.


Another facing a nervous wait is 2009 World champion in the Discus Throw, Dani Samuels. Though she made the final in Daegu, Samuels has struggled to return to the heights she reached in and on the way to Berlin. On Saturday night she was close to the 62-metres A-standard with a season’s best 61.30, but that is a distance she was throwing regularly three years back.


Benn Harradine, fifth in Daegu, has also thrown mediocre distances this year, but as a top-eight finisher in the IAAF World Championships he has been pre-selected so can prepare at his own pace.


Julian Wruck, the young Queenslander who is a former US NCAA champion, threw 61.54 to best Harradine’s 60.51. Wruck, too, is a strong candidate for the Olympic team.


Henry Frayne found a 8.09 effort in the fifth round to add the Long Jump to his Triple Jump win of the first day.


Doha 2010 World Indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre had taken the lead with an 8.00 in the previous round in what was a relatively quiet competition after the excitement of Frayne’s 17.23 in the Triple.


Frayne admitted he had problems coming back from the previous night.


“Eight-20 would have been nice,” he said, “but I suppose I was never going to hit it two days in a row. It’s still my second-longest ever.


“I really put everything into that 8.09.”


Steffensen storms to victory


John Steffensen donned a soccer shirt after his victory in the 400 metres, one of the strongest races at the trials. Melbourne’s national league team is Melbourne Victory. A Melbourne Victory shirt for a Melbourne victory, Get it?


Steffensen continued his winning return to form, his 45.74 putting him almost two metres clear of Ben Offereins (45.96). National champion Steve Solomon was third and Sean Wroe fourth. All should be part of the Australian men’s 4x400 squad in London.


Steffensen has yet to achieve the Olympic A-standard required for an individual spot, but he was happier to befit and healthy again.


“The times will always come,” he said.


Lauren Boden added a trials win in 56.01 to her A-standard for the 400 metres hurdles of two weeks ago. Not enough to guarantee a spot in the London team, but she will almost certainly wind up in it.


Dale Stevenson, who is heading to Istanbul for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, won the men’s shot put with 20.16 metres, his best of the season and his first Olympic B-standard of the season.


Len Johnson for the IAAF


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