06 FEB 2010 General News 6 February 2010 – Brisbane, Australia

With Brisbane victory, Samuels ahead of World championships year

In the cage Dani Samuels of Australia on her way to throwing a lifetime best of 65.44m to secure the World Championships title (Getty Images)In the cage Dani Samuels of Australia on her way to throwing a lifetime best of 65.44m to secure the World Championships title (Getty Images) © Copyright
Brisbane, AustraliaIt seems trite to say that Dani Samuels is ahead of where she was last year. After all, at the start of 2009 the talented, young discus thrower was not the World champion.

Now, after one glorious rainy night of competition in Berlin, Samuels is the World champion, completing at the tender age of 21, the impressive triple crown of World youth champion, World junior champion and World champion.

It was raining again in Brisbane on a warm and humid Saturday (6) night as Samuels began her 2010 campaign with a winning distance of 63.70m, and her series included other valid throws in the 61-metre range. She had started her first year as World champion a metre ahead of her first competition of 2009, and believes there is more to come.

Samuels said that being World champion means “A couple of doors have opened up for me.” She hopes that through those doors await a Commonwealth Games gold medal in New Delhi this October, success in the Diamond League and the Australian record of 68.72m set by 1992 Olympic bronze medallist Daniela Costian in 1994.

Her opening competition was “pretty good”, Samuels said, especially in light of a wrist injury which had added an unexpected couple of weeks onto a planned Christmas break.

Samuels said she felt “strong” but that she could improve further technically once she gets further into her training.

“My strength levels, speed and technique can all improve so to come out and throw 63.70 is very good,” Samuels said.

On the 2010 agenda at this stage are the Doha, London and Brussels Diamond League meetings - and the Commonwealth Games.

“The goal is always to medal at the major championships,” said Samuels. It’s a goal she is making a habit of fulfilling.

While Samuels is targeting the outdoor competition in Doha, Mitchell Watt is very much looking to make an impression there a couple of months earlier in the Long Jump at the World Indoor Championships.

“I’m looking forward to jumping against the big boys again,” said Watt, who broke through from relative obscurity to a bronze medal at the world championships in Berlin last August.

Watt’s 8m consistency continues

For the second week in a row, Watt was over 8.10m, his best of 8.15m (-0.7mps) a marginal improvement on his performance the previous week in Canberra.  That gave him a comfortable margin over second-placed Chris Noffke who produced a last-round 7.68m.

Watt has never seen an indoor competition venue, so he plans to get to Doha in plenty of time to familiarise himself with the Aspire Dome.

There had been talk of an attack on Jai Taurima’s national record of 8.49m in Watt’s hometown meeting, but he said the intermittent rain, headwind and small field all worked against it.

“With a small field of five, the jumps were coming around quicker than they usually do,” said Watt.

Ben Offereins, the fastest man in Australia at 400 this season with his 45.32 in Canberra, dropped down to 200m here, along with fellow World championships 4x400 relay bronze medallist Sean Wroe. But Matt Davies rose to the challenge on behalf of the short sprinters, taking out the race in a personal best 20.76 seconds by over two metres from New Zealand’s James Dolphin.

Offereins was fourth in 21.13 and Wroe fifth in 21.14, which might not be a great margin but maintained whatever psychological edge Offereins may have over his 400 rivals at this early stage of the season.

Patrick Johnson, Australia’s only sub-10 100m sprinter, narrowly edged out Davies in the 100m later in the night, 10.42 to 10.43. Melissa Breen reversed her loss to Laura Whaler last week, winning the women’s 100 in 11.62. She also won the 200 in 23.76.

Lachlan Renshaw, who narrowly missed selection in the World championships team last year, won the men’s 800m in 1:47.96. On the same night in Newcastle, Ryan Gregson ran the domestic season’s fastest of 1:47.06. Gregson who does not turn 20 until 26 April, broke Mike Hillardt’s Australian junior record for 1500m last year.

The wet conditions played havoc with the women’s pole vault with Olympic representative Alana Boyd and former World youth champion Vicky Parnov not going higher than 3.60m and 3.75m, respectively.

But younger sister Elizabeth kept the Parnov flag flying high, defeating training partner Amanda Bisk on countback at 4.10m. She went over at the first attempt, Bisk took two tries. Both Parnovs are daughter of outstanding pole vault coach Alex.

Len Johnson for the IAAF