Jana Pittman, Jana Rawlinson, Jana PittmanRawlinson - we’re not sure what to call her. Let’s just call her the winner.
The dual World champion has gone by all those names in the past couple of years, but it was Pittman on the entry list and the number bib. In any case, she made light of an absence of almost two years to defeat reigning national champion Lauren Boden in the 400 metres Hurdles at the Australian Athletics Tour final in Perth.
Pittman’s win, in 55.75 seconds to Boden’s season-best 55.97, came almost 21 months after her last race in Luzern (SUI) in July 2009. Given that she has not raced since, it was also tolerably close to the 55.34 she ran on that occasion.
“I just love this. This is what I live for,” a happy Pittman said after the race.
It was also the first time since the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games that she has raced domestically.
The return of the 2003 and 2007 World champion overshadowed pretty well everything else at the two day finale to the Australian Athletics Tour, including a treble sprints and sprint hurdles by Sally Pearson and a win by Doha 2010 World indoor bronze medallist Mitchell Watt over Doha 2010 World indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre in the Long Jump.
Pittman pounces as Boden stumbles
As so often in the one-lap hurdles, hurdle eight at the top of the final straight, was where the decisive change in the race occurred.
Boden, one lane to Pittman’s outside, had run a sizzling first half of the race but she stuttered into the eighth barrier and, suddenly, Pittman saw her chance. They raced over the final two hurdles pretty much side-by-side, but Pittman found the stronger finish.
It is just six weeks since Pittman got back to full training and less than four since she resumed hurdling drills. Her general fitness is at a high level, but full specific and race fitness are still some way off.
“I’m happy to be back,” she said. “It’s just one step towards the Olympics next year.”
Brendan Cole was under 50 seconds for the first time in 2011, taking the men’s one-lap hurdles in 49.94
Pearson still not satisfied
Sally Pearson said recently she is a homebody off the track. She doesn’t need to be doing much to make her happy, apparently.
On the track it’s another matter, it seems, as the perfectionist in the 2008 Beijing Olympic 100 Hurdles silver medallist takes over. Almost nothing, it seems, satisfies this Pearson.
A treble of 11.20 (+0.5) in the 100 and 12.85 (+0.6) in the 100 metres Hurdles on day one, and 23.22 (-0.5) in the 200m on day two would be enough for most athletes. The 100m was Pearson’s second-fastest ever, bettered only by her 11.14 in the heats at Osaka 2007, and the hurdles was more than handy for her first race over the barriers for the year.
“I don’t know why 11.10 isn’t coming,” Pearson said, revealing her short sprint ambitions. “I got out of the blocks strong and I expected a little quicker tonight to be honest.
“I know I can run quicker than I did tonight and it’s just a matter of making it happen.”
Aaron Rouge-Serret took out the double in the men’s sprints, winning the 200 on day one in 22.87 (+1.2) and the 100 on the second day in 10.38 (-0.3)
Watt beats error-prone Lapierre
An 8.21-metre opening jump stood up for Mitchell Watt through the men’s Long Jump competition as his main rival, Fabrice Lapierre, struggled to find any rhythm on the runway.
Watt had supplementary jumps of 8.11 and 8.06 and passed his final effort.
“I’m pretty pleased, it was my third competition over 8.20 in the past two weeks,” said the winner.
Lapierre, jumping for the first time this year, could not find the board on the runway where he reached 8.78w in the national championships a year ago. He had four fouls, a below par 7.48, and another foul to close off.
Kane Brigg, a Melbourne 2006 representative in the High Jump, won the Triple Jump on day one with a distance of 16.97 metres (+1.1). He just missed the 17m mark, but moved to fifth all-time among Australians behind Ken Lorraway, Andrew Murphy, Ian Campbell and Phil May.
Riseley drops down to 800 and wins
Racing for the first time since defeating Olympic gold and silver medallists Asbel Kiprop and Nick Willis at the Melbourne IAAF World challenge meeting, Jeff Riseley went down to 800 metres to record a 1:47.95 to 1:48.20 win over national champion Lachlan Renshaw.
The 1500 at the national championships in Melbourne looms as a cracker with Riseley, Jeremy Roff and Craig Mottram all going for the title.
Tamsyn Lewis won the women’s 800 in a season-best 2:01.44 win over Holly Noack. Improving runners Sianne Toemoe and Kelly Hetherington both ran personal bests in third and fourth places.
Lewis narrowly went down to Maris Magi (EST) in the 400 on day one, 52.90 to 52.99.
In the men’s 400, national champion Ben Offereins produced his best run of the year to defeat Commonwealth Games silver medallist Sean Wroe, 45.85 to 46.26.
Berlin 2009 World champion Dani Samuels won the women’s discus with 62.20 metres, her best distance of the year, while 2010 Continental Cup second placegetter Benn Harradine took the men’s event with 62.76.
Kimberly Mickle took the javelin with a distance of 59.46.
Len Johnson for the IAAF