Dani Samuels, Kim Mickle and Benn Harradine each a throws finalist at 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu were the stand-out performers at the 90th Australian Athletics Championships in Melbourne over the weekend of 13-15 April.
All three produced seasonal best performances in an encouraging showing as the southern hemisphere came to a close and the focus shifts to the northern hemisphere season and its climax, the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Samuels, who became the youngest ever women’s World Discus Throw champion in Berlin in 2009 but slipped back to tenth place in Korea, produced her best mark for almost two years in taking the Discus title with 62.34 metres on Sunday’s final day (15).
Backing that up with efforts of 61.67 and 61.95, Samuels pronounced herself satisfied.
“I’m really happy, you always want a touch further in these conditions, but to get out there and hit the Olympic (A-standard) is a big boost.”
“The validation of seeing the mark on the board makes all my hard work and progress worth it, I’ve been creeping up with my distances across the season and the confidence it gives me heading into the Shanghai Diamond League where the big girls come out to play is fantastic.”
“My consistency today was pretty good too, there were realistically three auto qualifiers for the Olympic final in my series, and that’s another bonus that I can take away,” said Samuels.
The 23-year-old Samuels completed a throw double, having won the Shot Put on Friday’s opening day with a personal best of 16.65 metres.
Mickle fractured a rib in throwing 61.96 for sixth place in the Javelin Throw final in Daegu. Competing for the first time since then, she produced a fourth-rough 61.70 metres to win from Kathryn Mitchell’s 59.23.
Like Samuels, Harradine has competed throughout the Australia domestic season but has been in sub-par form and has been struggling a little with a knee injury. But he saved his best for the championships, the Daegu fifth place finisher recording 63.50 on his fifth throw - his furthest throw on Australian soil.
Harradine, who has spent a month training in Germany and Cyprus since the Australian Olympic Trials, said: “It was okay, it’s always a little bit hard to find your form when you’ve just stepped off a plane but I was pleased. Sixty-three metres plus will normally get you into the final of a major champs and that’s what it’s all about I guess.”
“I know I’m in good shape and I’m just happy to be injury free at the moment. I have a lot of work to do and putting the pieces together is a slow process.”
With Julian Wruck, who has been selected to join Harradine in London, throwing 64.84m to win at the Jackie Joyner Kersee meeting in Los Angeles overnight, Australia will clearly field a strong team of throwers in London.
Ross, Breen and Solomon just miss auto-qualifiers in the sprints
Melissa Breen has been chasing Sally Pearson and the Olympic A-standards all season in the women’s sprints.
With Pearson sitting out the championships after winning the gold medal in the 60 metres hurdles at the Istanbul 2012 World Indoor Championships, Breen impressively took out the sprint double. But the Olympic A-standard required for an individual place in the team for London continued to defy her.
Breen ran 11.31 seconds in the 100 semis, just 0.02 outside the required mark. She won the final in 11.41 and followed up with a win in the 200 in 23.30 – her first national sprint double – but remained frustratingly short of the A-standard.
Josh Ross showed his best form of the season and of the past few years in winning his fifth national title in the men’s 100m on Saturday evening in 10.23 seconds, just under the Olympic B-standard of 10.24. Defending champion Aaron Rouge-Serret made things a little easier for Ross by false starting out of the final, which also had a ‘no start’ declared on the first attempt as several runners beat the gun.
Solomon, who does not turn 19 until 16 May, retained his national 400 metres titles with a commanding win in a personal best 45.54. He comfortably saw off Alex Beck, who just held off 2010 champion Ben Offereins for second place. Both recorded 46.30.
Solomon will now head off to next week’s Penn Relays in the USA with teammates Offereins, Wroe and one other (most probably Beck) in an attempt to boost Australia into an Olympic qualifying position. His major individual goal this year is the World Junior Championships.
McKnight Takes distance double
Most of Australia’s top middle distance and long distance athletes headed back into training after the Olympic Trials, but not so Kaila McKnight, who had missed most of the season with a foot injury.
Daegu 2011 1500 semi-finalist McKnight took out a distance double at the championships, winning the 5000 metres in a moderate 16:24.56 on the opening night with a kick-down over the final four laps. She then won a close battle over the final lap of the 1500 metres with Bridey Delaney, 4:18.02 to 4:18.26.
Another Daegu representative, Jeff Riseley, won the men’s 1500 in 3:47.88.
Finally, 2008 World Indoor 800m champion Tamsyn Manou won her tenth Australian title in that event in 2:02.00, still short of the A-standard she requires to be selected in a fourth Olympic team. Manou, who has already announced this will be her last year of competition, will continue to chase the standard in Europe.
Kerrie Perkins produced a wind-aided 6.70m (+3.1) final jump to snatch the women’s long jump title from Brooke Stratton, 6.56. Stratton, who is selected in the Australian world junior championships team, had taken the lead on the second last jump of the competition after Perkins had led with an earlier 6.50 effort.
Len Johnson for the IAAF
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