The 100 metres events highlighted a terrific day one of the Australian Capital Territory Championships in Canberra. Riley Day started the new year with a personal best, while in the men’s race, the photo finish judge needed to take the times to thousandths of a second to split the medallist.
The much-anticipated showdown between Australia’s speed demons didn’t disappoint. Reigning national champion, Trae Williams (QLD) set the standard in the heats, clocking 10.24 - a personal best time and his first Commonwealth Games B qualifier.
In cooler conditions in the final, it was blanket finish between Rohan Browning (NSW), Jack Hale (TAS) and Williams. The photo finish judge took a few minutes to separate the trio, as just three-thousands of a second separated them. All three were given the rounded-up time of 10.23, another B qualifier for each of them, but the photo revealed the exact times as 10.225 for Browning, and 10.228 for Hale and Williams in equal second.
Browning enjoyed the thrill of the event more than his own win. “When it comes down to the line like that, that is racing. Pure and simple, that is racing. That is what you want. That was fun. Whether I was first, second or third, I had a ball out there. "After a couple of years of injury, Browning has had nearly the perfect season. “I’ve still got my undefeated streak going this season. A bit of pride and ego.”
Hale was still pleased with his second place, but is looking towards Australian Championships. “I knew coming in here and racing against those guys, it was going to be great training prep going into Nationals. So I think I’m now in a really good mind set going into nationals - that is the big competition and I think everybody is keen for that."
“We are going to push each other to very good times, come nationals. All the boys are going to lift. The rivalry going forward is awesome. It is a really-friendly rivalry, and everybody is keen to get around each other.”
The guys know what is possible with this depth in men’s sprinting. “The reality is it is going to be potentially the best relay we have ever had. You can’t say that based on time, but we have done that many relay camps and I think we are getting the technical skills together. I think our times are going to go through the roof.”
Williams was just as enthusiastic about the relay. “Our 4x1 relay team for the Commonwealth Games is going to be unreal. If we can work on those changes and get that baton around, I think we will go well and possibly get a medal.”
Australia’s quickest athlete over the last 10 years, Josh Clarke (NSW), ran a fast heat of 10.36, but didn’t take his place in the final.
In her first outing of the year, Commonwealth Youth Games 200m champion Riley Day (QLD), 17, continued her progression with a personal best 100m time of 11.52, trimming her previous best of 11.59 set last year when she won the national junior title. She held off two-time world junior semi-finalist, Maddie Coates (VIC), who also ran a personal best time of 11.59. In third was Larissa Pasternatsky (NSW) with 11.78.
“I felt really good today in the race and didn’t expect that time,” Day said. “I knew I had lots of competition, so I came out knowing I had to run as fast as I could because I knew they would be on my tail. I was waiting for Maddie (Coates) to come up on me. I could feel them next to me, pushing me along.”
A fairly casual Morgan Mitchell (VIC) just held off her Rio Olympic 4x400m relay finalist team mate, Anneliese Rubie (NSW) in the 400m, recording times of 52.48 to 52.57 respectively. Teenage Commonwealth Youth 400m champion, Bendere Oboya (NSW) was third in 53.33
“It felt pretty cruisy,” reflected Mitchell. “I just came out to win; it’s another training run and to do that, I’m pretty happy.”
Her race plan? “It was just to focus on myself. I’ve had a pretty rough start to the season and felt if I could just run happy, I’d be sweet. I’m getting faster every week, so I can’t be too upset and I’m getting one step closer to where we want to be.”
Rubie felt her results fell short of expectations but took some positives from her performance. “It is always so nice to come here with the good conditions, you feel like the stars are aligned. Obviously, the race didn’t go exactly to plan. The plan was to finish in front but I'm happy to have a good run against what will pretty much what will be the national final.”
In the women’s 1500m, Olympic semi-finalist Linden Hall was not as smooth as she was last week in the Hunter. “I had a bit of a rough prep coming off a cold following that 5k last week and was unsure if I would run today. I definitely had the 5k still in the legs this week at training. But I was glad I came out and ran on this perfect night here."
Hall, Jenny Blundell (NSW) and Abi Regan (NSW), ran together for much of the race, until approaching the bell, when Hall strode away, to win in 4:09.32, with Blundell second in 4:15.03, just out dipping Regan 4:15.32.
Other performances in brief at the championships
NSW’s Aiden Harvey raised his personal best twice in the shot to a best of 17.86m.
Daniel Mowen (Qld) just held off Murray Goodwin (Qld) 46.35 to 46.37 in a close 400m race.
Melbourne-based Tasmanian, James Hansen won the 1500m in his third consecutive Commonwealth Games B time of 3:39.39.
View the full results here.
Day two of the ACT Championships gets underway on Saturday at 1.30pm. Highlights include the 200m, 800m, 400m hurdles, javelin, long jump and high jump.
The great day of athletics had got underway with the GIO Oz Day 10K wheelchair race around The Rocks in Sydney. World champion, Madi de Rozario defended her title clocking 25 minutes 38 seconds, finishing ahead of world championships team mate Jemima Moore and Canadian Jessica Frotten.
In the men’s event, Japanese visitor, Tomoki Suzuki comfortable won from defending champion Kurt Fearnley. Suzuki stopped the clock at 21:50. American Daniel Romanchuk, who has been winning races all week in the Summer Down Under Series, finished third, just three second behind Fearnley.