David Rudisha produced his second sub-1:45 800m run in eight days when he won at the Perth Track Classic on Saturday night (12). But, popular as the world and Olympic champion is in Australia, he had to share the limelight – maybe he was even nudged out of its epicentre – with Brooke Stratton, who set an Oceanian record in the long jump.
Jumpers love coming to Perth. The West Australian capital offers unfailingly warm conditions and consistent winds, usually at, or close to, the maximum allowable two metres per second.
Stratton experienced tailwinds as high as 4.4m/s during the long jump competition. But, critically, the wind behaved perfectly when it counted. When the 22-year-old went out to 7.05m on her second attempt, the wind reading was exactly 2.0m/s. For her 6.84m on her final try, Stratton was boosted by a 1.9m/s breeze.
There has been no doubting Stratton’s form this year. In Canberra last month, she jumped 6.94m, the first time any Australian woman has approached Bronwyn Thompson’s national record of 7.00m set in Melbourne in 2002.
After two more competitions around the 6.70m mark, Stratton headed to Perth confident in her form. All she needed was the right conditions, and she got them.
“I’m still struggling to believe it, it’s crazy,” she said. “It’s been such a busy season so far, I came into the season with a PB of 6.73m and the seven-metre mark was so far away. But to have been able to jump it tonight, wow, I honestly can’t believe it.
“I knew the jump was there, I just had to get it all right,” she added. “The conditions were perfect here. Perth put on a show and I was able to jump as far as I did. I was very excited to see the conditions here. I’ve been to Canberra a few times this year, but this track is just as good. The sun was out and the winds were amazing.”
Perth has promised great long jumping ever since the city’s new track was opened in 2010. That year, Fabrice Lapierre jumped a wind-assisted 8.78m to win the national title, making him the sixth-best performer all-time in any conditions. Now Stratton has delivered a wind-legal performance of comparable magnitude.
Stratton’s next competition will be next week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 where she will be competing indoors for the first time in her career.
Australia is likely to be represented by two women in the Olympic long jump in Rio. Chelsea Jaensch, who has already achieved the Rio standard, was second in Perth with a wind-aided 6.69m (+2.5).
Rudisha happy with his progress
Having opened his Olympic season with a 1:44.78 win at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Melbourne last weekend, Rudisha was again aiming for a sub-1:45 on his first visit to Perth.
At 400m in 51.81, Rudisha led with co-Australian record-holder Alex Rowe at his shoulder. Rowe, who is racing against time to hit top form in the Australian domestic season, remained a contender until the final bend before fading badly on the final straight.
Rudisha strode on serenely to win in 1:44.89 with Peter Bol, who is training with Rowe in Melbourne, taking second in 1:46.68.
The world record-holder pronounced himself pleased with his first visit and race in Australia’s western-most state capital.
“To win here, and to meet my (1:45) target again, I think I’m satisfied now to go back and prepare for the main season,” said Rudisha. “So far, so good. I’ve been progressing well. I know there are good things coming.”
Rudisha’s was one of two Kenyan victories in the middle-distances on the night. James Magut won the Herb Elliott Mile in 3:59.83 from countryman Elijah Kipchirchir, 4:00.24.
Mitchell close to 64 metres in the javelin
After winning in Melbourne last week with 64.37m, 2013 World Championships sixth-place finisher Kathryn Mitchell was again out near the 64-metre mark in the javelin.
Mitchell produced an opening throw of 63.95m to win the event comfortably. On the sidelines was 2013 world silver medallist Kim Mickle, who had should surgery after last year’s World Championships and is hoping to return to competition soon.
In the men's event, Hamish Peacock produced the third-best mark of his career to win comfortably with 82.81m.
Williams takes down Shirvington’s U20 record
The Australian U20 championships, the selection trials for the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 later this year, are being conducted in Perth and several marquee events were incorporated into the Perth Track Classic evening program.
Taking full advantage of the opportunity to show his talent on a bigger stage, young Queensland sprinter Trae Williams won the men’s U20 100m in 10.27 (+1.2), breaking Matt Shirvington’s 10.29 national U20 record in the process.
Williams had narrowly missed the mark in the semi-finals earlier in the day, running 10.32.
In second place, Jack Hale ran 10.31, also under the previous record and his fastest time in legal conditions. Tasmanian sprinter Hale caused a sensation at the Australian All Schools championships at the end of 2014 when he won the 100m in a wind-aided 10.13.
Len Johnson for the IAAF