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Australia got off to a fantastic start at the IAAF U20 World Championships in Tampere, Finland with personal bests throughout the session and eight of the 13 athletes in individual events progressing to the next round.
Decathletes Ashley Moloney (QLD) and Gary Haasbroek (VIC) have also been prominent and sit 3rd and 6th respectively after the first three events.
McAvoy and Erbacher through to steeplechase final
Queenslanders Montanna McAvoy and Brielle Erbacher put it all on the line in the heats of the 3000m steeplechase and were rewarded with qualification for the final and personal bests to boot.
In heat 1, McAvoy (18) was committed from the gun and broke the 10-minute barrier for the first time with 9:59.67. She crossed the line in second and improved her personal best set in Townsville recently by over four seconds. McAvoy consolidates here position at number 4 on the Australian Under 20 all-time list as she became just the 13th Australian to break 10 minutes.
McAvoy was pleased to progress through to the final after digging deep over the final two laps.
“With 800m to go I was feeling the legs but I knew I needed top 3 so I had to push right to the end.”
“To be in a final I am stoked. That was my goal. In the final I am going to give it everything to do another PB.”
Townsville’s Erbacher (19) pushed hard to stay in touch with the top three for an automatic spot. She looked strong throughout and her time of 10:09.43 in fourth was enough to qualify in heat 2. It was a nervous wait for the Queenslander though as she watched the final heat trackside and was ecstatic when she realised she had secured the final non-automatic qualifying time.
The stand-out heat winners were Ugandan Peruth Chemutai winning heat 3, 9:34.34 and Celliphine Chespol (KEN) winning of heat 1 in 9:45.60. Winfred Yavi (BRN) won heat 2 in 9:52.23. The Kenyan is one of the most outstanding competitors of the champs and owns the six fastest times in history at the U20 level.
The Australians now have until Friday evening to recover for the final. The top placing in this event for Australia at the World U20s was 10th place in 2012 by Tessa Potezny (SA). The Australian U20 Record of 9:30.70, a world record at the time, was set in 2001 by Melissa Rollison (QLD).
Shot Put training partners through to final later tonight
Training partners Aiden Harvey (NSW) and Alexander Kolesnikoff (NSW) have achieved one of their big goals for the World U20s and qualified for the final of the shot put, starting at 1.10am AEST in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Harvey, 19, threw close to his best to be the sixth best qualifier. His series was 18.34m, 19.39m and 19.22m. His best of 19.42m was set last month in Germany.
Harvey self-assessment of his performance was “very good.” with the Queenslander saying, “ I had hoped to do the qualifying in one throw but it took me three. But I got through. It was a decent placing for the qualifying to go through for the final and now I’m ready to do something pretty cool.”
Kolesnikoff, 18, who was initially sixth in his pool, had a nervous wait to see if he would be a non-automatic qualifier when the second pool was complete. His best throw enough to qualify eleventh with an 18.89m, 18.93m and a foul.
Kolesnikoff has more to offer, declaring "I felt really good going into the comp, but it was the hardest mental battle as I know I can go far."
Both men, coached by David Bruce, based recent performances have more to give in the final.
Australia has an impressive record in this event at the World U20s. Justin Anlezark (QLD) and Clay Cross (NSW) won the silver and bronze respectively in 1996 and Damien Birkinhead (VIC) won silver in 2012 with the Australian U20 Record throw of 21.14m.
Davies qualifies for 1500m final as Clifford creates own history
Callum Davies (QLD) and Jaryd Clifford (VIC) both ran great races in the heats of the men’s 1500m. The Queenslander looked strong over the final 200m, to finish fourth in heat 3, and his personal best time of 3:46.32 was enough to clinch the final qualifying spot for the final by 0.32 seconds.
Davies was understandably thrilled to make a global final.
“I wanted a PB and not to be disappointed and leave it all on the track,” said the Queenslander.
“I’m really happy with that and think I can take another few seconds off that time. I’m pretty excited to make the World Champs final.”
The Brian Chapman-coached runner came into the championships with a best of 3:47.61 from the Townsville pre-departure competition. The final will be run in the evening of day three (Thursday 12 July).
Clifford became the first Australian Paralympian to compete in an able-bodied athletics world championships when he ran a very solid 3:47.77 to place eighth in heat 2. The time was faster than he ran to win the Trials as he finished the championships ranked 14th overall.
"I tried to showcase what the Paralympics are all about and that's getting in there and having a real crack".
"I felt like I did my best out there and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am so happy with being able to do that."
Thinking ahead to the future, Clifford said his goals were "double gold in Tokyo 2020. In the 1500m and 5k."
The 19-year-old was born with a degenerative eye condition – Juvenile Macular Degeneration – and is legally blind. He was seventh in the 1500m and 5,000m at the Rio Paralympic Games and a bronze medallist over 1500m at the 2017 World Para Championships. Coached by Philo Saunders in Canberra, he will take a lot from this performance.
Russell and Thomas right at home on world stage
Jemima Russell (VIC) and Carley Thomas (NSW) showed great form and composure in the heats of the 800m.
Russell, 19, in her international debut was in the first of four heats and the pace was on from the start. She sat in nicely in the middle of the pack and when the tempo lifted down the back straight on the last lap she responded and comfortably finished fourth in the automatic qualifying spot. Her heat was won in 2:05.13 and the Victorian was happy with her 2:06.84.
She is coached by Peter Fortune and her mother is her Sharon Russell (nee Stewart) who was one of Australia’s finest ever 400m/800m athletes.
Thomas who won the Australian Trials showed she is in great form in Finland, comfortably second in heat two (2:08.57).
The 17-year-old, who is coached by Penny Gillies in Sydney, won the 800m and 4x400m at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, and that experience showed today.
“I just wanted to go out and get through it and not run a race that was too crazy,” Thomas said.
“It was awesome so I’m happy.”
Japanese runners won heat 1 (2:05.13) and 3 (2:05.08) and recorded the fastest times from the four heats.
The semi-finals will be run in the evening session of day two (Wednesday, 11 July). Both women will be aiming for the final on Thursday 12 July and they will both also run the 4x400m relay.
Multi-eventers begin in style
Queensland all-rounder Ashley Moloney (QLD) started the Australian campaign in sensational fashion with a significant personal best time of 10.51 in his decathlon 100m heat. Things went a little off track when he fouled his first two attempts in the long jump and required a safe leap of 7.06m on his third and final attempt. However he was still in the lead until the shot put where he managed just 12.83m, slipping back to third place.
Victorian Gary Haasbroek (VIC) has been very consistent throughout the morning session with three marks, just outside his personal bests. In the 100m he ran 10.92, leapt 7.26m in the long jump and threw an excellent 13.28m in the shot, to sit in sixth place on 2438 points - 26 ahead of his personal best.
Doran through Azzopardi agonisingly close
Jake Doran (QLD) and Joshua Azzopardi (NSW) were late inclusions for the 100m at the World U20s thanks to fantastic runs nine days ago, adding the individual event ahead of the 4x100m relay.
Doran’s Australian U20 record of 10.15 seconds on the eve of the championships created plenty of interest, and the Townsville sprinter handled the pressure. In heat 2, he ran 10.41 (+0.6 m/s) to be pipped for the win but he looked in total control.
Azzopardi also ran really well to finish fourth in heat 4 and his time of 10.66 was only 0.04 seconds off securing a lane in the semi-finals tomorrow night.
Jamaican Michael Stephens and Indonesia’s Lalu Zohri set the fastest times from the six heats with 10.30.
Javelin women miss final
Javelin throwers Lara Ilievski (WA) and Alexandra Roberts (QLD) ended qualifying similar to how they were seeded and missed progressing to the final.
In tough conditions for throwers only one athlete achieved the automatic standard of 53.50m.
Roberts was the first of the 15 Australians in action when she threw in group A of qualification. She had a shaky start to the competition with 39.84m, and then continued to improve with 42.48m and 45.04m.
The Queenslander placed 22nd overall, and was over five metres down on her throw to place second at Trials. However, at just 17 she will learn a huge amount from this experience and is eligible for 2022.
Ilievski, who turned 18 last month, threw in group B and also could not find her rhythm early. She opened with a foul, then 43.14m and finished with 45.34m to place 21st overall down from her 52.08m at Trials.
Schmidtchen jumps below best in Tampere
Ben Schmidtchen (QLD) was unable to reproduce his recent form in the qualification of the men’s long jump.
The 18-year-old who jumped 7.75m in his last competition failed to fire with a series of 7.19m, 6.95m and 7.17m. The talented all-round jumper, coach by Gary Bourne, also came close to qualifying in triple jump for Tampere.
Zane Branco chose to not contest the long jump qualification to focus on the 200m.
Japan’s Yuki Hashioka topped qualifying with 7.92m and it took 7.42m for the final spot.
Next Aussies in Action - Day 1 Evening Session - Tues 11:00pm to Wed 1:50am
In the first evening session of the championships, Australia will be represented in all three finals - Josh Torley (10,000m), Clio Ozanne-Jaques (5000m) and shot put duo Aiden Harvey and Alexander Kolesnikoff following their qualification via the morning session. Decathletes Ashley Moloney and Gary Haasbroek continue the gruelling two-day events and are in good form. Nine athletes in total are in action.
||Ashley Moloney, Gary Haasbroek
||Aiden Harvey, Alexander Kolesnikoff
||Ashley Moloney, Gary Haasbroek
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia
Superlatives and Statistics David Tarbotton
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Championships start Tuesday 10 July 4pm AEST and continue through to Sunday 15 July 11pm AEST.
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