Eleanor Patterson didn’t go to the Australian All Schools Championships in Townsville expecting to set any records, but with little more than three weeks left as a youth athlete, she chose the perfect moment to unleash a 1.96m leap.
The 17-year-old wasn’t a surprise winner by any stretch; earlier this year she won the World youth title in Donetsk. But the biggest shock on Saturday (7), the second day of the three-day event, was her huge improvement.
She enjoyed first-time clearances up to and including 1.88m to equal her PB. She then went over 1.92m on her third attempt before breaking the Australian junior record with 1.94m and then again with 1.96m. Patterson ended the competition with three failed attempts at a would-be equal national senior record of 1.98m.
Patterson’s 1.96m leap equalled the World youth best set by South Africa’s Charmaine Gale-Weavers in 1981 and tied by Olga Turchak of the Soviet Union in 1984. It also puts Patterson at equal eighth on the world junior all-time list and is the best outdoor jump by a junior woman since 2002.
The last time an Australian woman of any age jumped higher than 1.96m was 19 years ago, two years before Patterson was born.
“You never go anywhere expecting to jump as well as I did today,” said Patterson, now one of the early favourites ahead of next year’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene. “I was hoping for a personal best but to come away with a performance like this is out of this world. It’s so exciting, and I couldn’t be happier.
“It’s been a big year. I had qualified for World Juniors a couple of years ago when I was too young to compete, so it was so great to get the chance at World Youths this year. Doing well there was great, and this is another step up.”
Denny wins triple gold in throws
Patterson wasn’t the only World youth champion to triumph in Townsville. Australia’s two other gold medallists from Donetsk were also victorious this weekend.
Matthew Denny, the World youth champion in the Discus and bronze medallist in the Hammer, picked up three gold medals in the space of two days. First up was the Hammer, which he won with a meeting record of 77.39m. Later that day he dominated the Discus, again setting a meeting record with his opening throw of 65.46m. His third gold medal came in the Shot, which he again won comfortably with 19.33m.
“I’m coming back from injury so I’ve put back moving up weights with the Hammer, and training in full for the Discus,” said Denny. “I want to replicate my 2013 in 2014 if I can. I want to have a real crack at the World Juniors and hopefully win a medal. I just want to keep improving; it’s as simple as that really.”
Australia’s other World youth champion, javelin thrower Mackenzie Little, was another comfortable winner. Although some way short of the 60-metre form she displayed in Donetsk, Little was the only thrower to surpass the 50-metre mark, doing so three times and winning with 51.38m.
Elsewhere in the field events, Aaliyah Johnson impressed. In Donetsk the talented all-rounder finished fourth in the Heptathlon, agonisingly close to a medal. But in Townsville the 16-year-old focused on the Triple Jump and smashed her PB with 13.15m, putting her in the top 10 on the world youth lists for the 2013 season.
Teenage sprinters shine
It wasn’t just the infield where Australia’s young talents showed top form. Solid performances were produced by numerous athletes, some of them with an eye on next year’s World Junior Championships.
James Kermond achieved a long sprints double and smashed his PBs in both events. He clocked 46.76 in the 400m, then returned the following day to take the 200m in 21.00m. Joshua Robinson finished a close second in both finals, running PBs of 46.83 and 21.15 respectively.
Sprint doubles were also achieved by Jessica Thornton and Jordan Shelley. Thornton, competing in the under-16 age group, won the 100m in 11.60, aided by a 2.4m/s tailwind. Less than an hour later she took the 400m title in 53.90, which was faster than the winning mark in the older age group.
Shelley broke the Australian under-16 records in both the 100m and 200m, running 10.67 and 21.44 respectively for the two events.
The best performer in the under-14 age group was undoubtedly James Gallaugher, who set a world age-13 best of 21.73.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF