A month to the day after promising an Australian record at the Melbourne IAAF World Challenge meeting, Kim Mickle delivered on Saturday (22).
The world silver medallist threw a massive 66.83m to break Louise Currey’s former national mark from 2000 by three centimetres as the field events took the limelight at a meeting usually known for its track performances.
When Kim Mickle launched her winning throw, she knew it was a good one, but not how good.
The javelin sector was marked out, but Mickle could not see how far beyond the 60-metre arc the spear had landed.
“I am too short to see the bloody lines out there so I didn’t know how far it was,” joked Mickle.
“Once I saw it in the sky I thought, ‘yeah that is pushing 65 there’, and my arms automatically went up. When I heard ‘66’ I thought, ‘Oh no, it is going to come up short again’. When I heard that 83 it was such a relief.
“It’s a relief but I don’t feel like it has happened yet. Once I get home and see it written down it will sink in.”
Mickle opened her season with a 66.12m in Adelaide on 15 February but felt she had missed a good chance to throw further in Perth a week later.
It was then she vowed to break Currey’s national record in Melbourne.
Even better, she met Currey at the John Landy Lunch on Thursday when the 1996 Olympic silver medallist was inducted into Athletics Australia’s Hall of Fame.
“Meeting one of my idols two days earlier then Kathryn (Kathryn Mitchell, who led for two rounds and finished second with 62.58m) pushing me so hard it was like it was scripted. I felt good for this meet.
“It wasn’t an amazing technique throw but I just nailed the point and with javelin if you nail it with a bit of force behind it, (the javelin) is going to go.”
Walsh wins with national record
Tom Walsh, New Zealand’s surprise bronze medal winner at the IAAF World Indoor Championships two weeks ago in Sopot, made it two outdoor national records in two trips to Melbourne when he tossed the men’s shot out to 21.16m. He had set the previous outdoor record of 20.61m at the Zatopek meeting last December.
Though down on her usual high standards, Walsh’s compatriot Valerie Adams notched a 45th straight victory in the women’s event with 19.68m
Walsh and Adams took different routes ‘down under’ after their Sopot medals. Walsh came straight back to Melbourne, and has spent the time training with Scott Martin’s throwing group while Adams came down only two days ago.
Walsh reached 21.16m on his fourth attempt and had a good series with four more over 20 metres and one foul.
Adams, on the other hand, said she felt like she was not ready.
“It was one of my worst competitions for a while,” she said, “but a win is a win, and that’s 45 in a row now. I’m really tired, but I wanted to support this meeting because it is the biggest in the Oceania region.”
Local throwers Dani Samuels and Benn Harradine won the discus events.
Samuels continued her most consistent start to a season since 2010 with a 63.59m while area record-holder Harradine took the men’s contest with 63.39m.
Sally Pearson ran both the hurdles and the flat 100m without the barriers, taking the former in 12.89 and the latter in 11.34.
The 2011 World Athlete of the Year was happy with her performances, but a little frustrated the unseasonal cold conditions held her back.
“I’m in good shape,” she said. “It would be nice to run something that shows it.”
The same applied to the USA’s world 110m hurdles champion David Oliver, who followed Pearson on to the track.
After winning in Sydney in 13.38 a week ago, he won just as clearly in 13.57 in Melbourne.
Another US world champion, LaShawn Merritt, won the 400m in 46.32 but, an indication of the conditions and something for trivia fans to note, it was his slowest time outdoors in a race he’s finished since he was a teenager in 2005.
Kenyan contingent clean up
After winning in Sydney a week ago, world champion Eunice Sum, world silver medallist Mercy Cherono and Olympic fourth-place finisher Duane Solomon followed up in Melbourne.
Erratic pacemaking saw the women’s 800m go through the first lap in just 61 seconds when the aim was something around 58 seconds, but Sum was always in control after that, the Kenyan winning in 2:02.99.
Once again, 18-year-old Georgia Wassall beat her older rivals, taking second place in 2:03.23.
Cherono, also from Kenya, was actually the fastest entrant in the 1500m but faced a field of strong rivals all in good recent form. She led at the bell and did not let anyone get close to her on the final lap to take the victory in 4:08.57 from Moscow finalist Zoe Buckman and Bridey Delaney.
Solomon was sought out for the Australian season with the hope he would drag some of the local runners to fast times. The US middle-distance runner delivered on both fronts in the men’s 800m, taking his second win in two Australian starts in 1:45.17, from Joshua Ralph who ran a personal best of 1:45.80.
Kenya’s Isiah Koech was a class above the rest of the field in the 5000m, taking the win in 13:29.05, 100m ahead of Ben St Lawrence.
Rounding out the middle-distance events, James Magut made it another win for Kenya in the 1500m, sprinting away in the final lap to win in 3:40.39.
Eleanor Patterson, now 18, won the high jump with 1.92m for her 10th consecutive win against opponents of all ages. Patterson equalled the world youth best of 1.96m last December and will be among the favourites for the gold medal at the IAAF World Junior Championships this summer, if she opts for this event rather than the Commonwealth Games.
The night also saw the return to competition of Olympic finalist Henry Frayne who took the long jump with 8.10m, his first competition in 19 months after persistent back injuries.
Len Johnson for the IAAF