Three Olympic qualifiers in the women’s 10,000 metres, an Australian Record plus a record crowd highlighted the 38th Optus Zatopek Classic at Melbourne’s Olympic Park.
World Championships marathon representative Kerryn McCann from NSW won the Zatopek 10,000 metres in 31:55.94 from Tasmania’s Kylie Risk in 31:58.90 and Victoria’s Claire Fearnley in 32:18.22.
The three Australians finished ahead of 1997 World Champion Sally Barsosio from Kenya who crossed the line in fourth in 32:26.28.
Further to their celebrations was that their times were all under the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying time of 32:30.00. McCann’s time was also a personal best and places her fifth on the Australian All-Time list.
In the men’s Zatopek 10,000 metres, Kenya finished one, two, three to claim their fifth Zatopek victory in five years. Abraham Chebii won in 28:01.63 from Evans Rutto in 28:06.60 and Joseph Waweru in 28:13.71.
NSW’s Scott Westcott was the first Australian in a massive personal best of 28:19.41, just nine seconds outside an Olympic qualifier.
After taking the race up to the Kenyans in the first 5000 metres, Victoria’s Lee Troop dropped to seventh in 28:32.27 behind NSW’s Kim Gillard (5th, 28:23.61) and Steve Moneghetti (6th, 28:27.21).
Nicole Mladenis from WA capitalised on the great conditions for track and field with a new Australian Record of 13.67 metres in the Triple Jump.
Fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Georgie Clarke confirmed her potential in the 1500 metres with victory in a personal best of 4:12.51 from AIS athlete Benita Willis who finished second in 4:13.69 which was also a personal best.
World 400 metres Champion Cathy Freeman took the honours in the 100 metres in 12.05 seconds into a strong headwind (-2.4). Freeman won by two-hundredths of a second from NSW’s Rachael Massey.
In a competitive 3000 metres Steeplechase, Martin Dent from the AIS surged away in the final lap to win in 8:31.55, a personal best, from Olympian Chris Unthank and SA’s Stephen Thurston.
World Junior Championships medallist Casey Vincent took the 400 metres in 46.86 seconds, NSW’s Martin Byron won the 800 metres in 1:47.56, and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Stuart Rendell threw 72.38 metres for victory in the hammer throw.
A record crowd of more than 4,000 capped off a great start to the Optus Grand Prix Series which drew unprecedented media interest and three times the media accreditation from last year.
Athletics Australia for the IAAF