Kelly Hetherington knows she still has a lot more to do despite booking her ticket to the IAAF Championships in Moscow with an 800m win in 2:01.22 at the Australian Championships in Sydney on Sunday (14).
“2:01, as we know, in Europe that will get you thrashed,” said Hetherington.
Nevertheless, it did push Hetherington past a significant milestone. After a season spent in mostly solo pursuit, her win and time fulfilled the requirements for automatic selection to Australia’s World Championships team.
“I’m so excited to finally have got it done, and what a beautiful place to do it. It was tough out the front but I don’t mind doing it, the conditions are just beautiful. It’s just awesome,” said Hetherington.
“I have been running 2:02 all season so to get the time is great, in the closing stages I was almost yelling at myself to push harder and get there. I used my arms better and tried that little bit more knowing that this was such a great opportunity.
Hetherington has been through a lot in the past 18 months. Her coach, Maxine Corcoran passed away late in November 2011 after suffering from a brain tumour. Hetherington looked poised to break through last year until she was sidelined with the debilitating Guillain-Barre syndrome.
“This run is very much for my late coach Maxine. I know she would be up there proud, and now that I am working with her husband Danny it is great. To come back from my own illness last year and losing Maxine has been hard. It’s such a fantastic reward to know that this has happened through her help since way back when I was a junior.”
Fittingly, Hetherington’s medal was presented by Charlene Rendina, the woman whose 1976 record of 1:59.0 has defied Australia’s female 800m running for almost 40 years and who is one of a group of Maxine Corcoran’s friends who have banded together to mentor the 24-year-old runner.
New Zealand’s Angela Smit took second in 2:02.09 with IAAF World Youth Championships medal prospect Georgia Wassall reducing her personal best to 2:03.37 in taking third place.
Besides Hetherington, sprinter Joshua Ross, in the 200m, and 400m hurdlers Lauren Boden and Tristan Thomas also guaranteed their places in the Australian team going to Moscow.
All year, Ross has been saying all season he is a better 200m runner than 100m and he underlined the point by winning over the longer distance in 20.57 to complete a sprint double.
Leaving moderate success in the 4x100m Relay aside, it is the first time an Australian male sprinter has been selected for an individual event for a global outdoor championship since Ross went to the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.
Boden backed up her 56.31 in the heats with a 56.47 in the final while Thomas had to find something off the tenth hurdle to hold off Ian Dewhurst.
Thomas won in 49.68 with Dewhurst under 50 seconds for the first time in 49.93.
Others have until 29 July to clinch a place in the team which is expected to eventually number around 50 but some big domestic names, including Fabrice Lapierre, Jarrod Bannister and Ryan Gregson have yet to secure their on the plane to Russia.
Long jumper Lapierre had his best jump of his brief domestic season in taking his fourth national title with a best of 8.00m, with London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Mitchell Watt already pre-selected.
“It’s early days, eight metres right now, I’m happy with that. I feel like I’m improving,” said the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships gold medallist.
Bannister took the Javelin title with 79.62m, which followed his 79.99m at the recent Melbourne IAAF World Challenge meeting, but he needs to throw 81 metres to get to Moscow.
A tactical men’s 1500m saw Gregson, who had run 3:35.25 on the same track just five weeks earlier, finishing only sixth in a typical championship race which began at a canter and ended in a furious sprint won by James Kaan, one of the emerging athletes of the season, in 3:46.29.
Japan’s Miyuki Fukumoto won the women’s High Jump with 1.92m, ahead of World Youth Championships-bound Eleanor Patterson , who was second with 1.85m.
Len Johnson for the IAAF