Australia’s junior athletes were the first to impress at the 99th edition of the Australian Track and Field Championships in Sydney, with some of the names of tomorrow edging closer to selection to the Australian team travelling to the World Athletics Under 20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Among those to impress, was NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) emerging talent Erin Shaw who triumphantly won gold in the women’s high jump, after returning from injury.
Though the 17-year-old has jumped a personal best of 1.84m this season, 1.78m was enough to take the title away from Queenslander, Sophie Lillicrap. While neither of them managed to achieve the 1.81m qualifying standard height at the championships, Erin’s personal best coupled with the crown should be enough to secure her spot to Colombia.
As the country’s open age athletes descended upon Sydney Olympic Park for the pinnacle events later in the week, competition certainly stepped up a notch.
For the able bodied athletes, the Australian Track and Field Championships proved of the utmost importance as a crown could represent their ticket to the World Athletics Championships and an automatic nomination for the Commonwealth Games– with three NSWIS athletes securing their place.
For the Paralympic athletes, they used the opportunity to strengthen their preparation for Birmingham working to improve on their rankings.
On day five of the meet, NSWIS’ Oliver Hoare marked his presence on home soil, after returning from the USA with a statement win in heat one of the Men’s Open 1500m, looking smooth when coasting to victory in 3:41.91 to assert himself as the man to beat in the final.
Fellow NSWIS teammate Alexandra Hulley had no troubles advancing to the national hammer throw final when launching the hammer 62.49m on her first attempt, with Stephanie Ratcliffe as the only athlete to pose a threat with her 61.42m throw.
Day six saw a tight steeplechase, with the field proving too strong in the closing stages for NSWIS’ Georgia Winkcup who was edged out of medal position, instead left to round out the top four.
For Australia’s wheelchair athletes, the 1500m T53/54 races marked the last opportunity to lift their rankings within the Commonwealth to cement their place on the Australian team for the Birmingham 2022 Games.
NSWIS athlete and 2021 co-Female Athlete of the Year Madison de Rozario capitalised on the opportunity, taking out the Australian title in 4:08.21. Fellow Team NSWIS member, Luke Bailey finished second in the men’s racing, narrowly missing the gold by less than a second in a time of 3:49.38.
By day seven, Australia’s charge towards the Oregon World Athletics Championships had stepped up with three athletes cementing their place to the Australian Team.
Olli Hoare (1500m) joined Matt Denny (discuss) and Nina Kennedy (pole vault) as the athletes to achieve automatic selection to the team, also receiving an automatic nomination to the Commonwealth Games Australia team to travel to Birmingham. The trio received the auto selection and nomination after having had meet the qualifying standards since Tokyo and in backing up their performances as Australian champions.
Flying to his hometown of Sydney, the US-based NSWIS scholarship holder (Olli) punched his ticket back to his adoptive home with a smooth race over 1500m. The Tokyo Olympic finalist led throughout the race and crossed the line in 3:40.79 but it wasn’t without effort as Western Australia’s Matthew Ramsden stayed close, hungry for the win after missing out on an Olympic berth last year.
Olli prevailed, only just widening the gap in the final lap. Ramsden, who also has a qualifying time in his back pocket, placed second in a time of 3:41.43, with Queensland’s Callum Davies just over a second behind In third (3:42.90).
View this post on Instagram
With such depth in the field, Olli said he was thrilled to book his place on both teams and was particularly excited to compete once again at the stadium where he won his NCAA Championship in 2018.
“Tokyo was an absolute privilege. It was my first time ever representing Australia in anything so to represent at the Olympic Games and in an Olympic final was a huge privilege,” he said.
“But Hayward Field (at the University of Oregon) has a special place in my heart. For me, as an athlete, that’s where I took that step up to becoming better and it’s going to be exciting wearing the green and gold there and showing the Americans what we can do.”
The ever-consistent Alexandra Hulley edged closer to a World Championships and Commonwealth Games start, throwing 67.51m in the women’s open hammer throw to win the title.
Alex threw nearly six metres further than Victoria’s Stephanie Ratcliffe and came close to her 68.94m season’s best thrown at the Sydney Track Classic.
Olympic finalist and NSWIS scholarship holder Mackenzie Little continued her strong form in the javelin when throwing the second-best throw of her career to date – a 62.09m effort in the second round – as she sailed to victory unchallenged. Mackenzie recorded three throws over 60-metres in the sequence.
View this post on Instagram
On day eight, seven more Australian track and field champions secured selection to the Australian team for the Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships, after winning national titles on the penultimate day of the 2022 Australian Track and Field Championships in Sydney.
In addition to the Oregon team selection, Tokyo Olympians Jessica Hull (5000m), Liz Clay (100m hurdles), Kurtis Marschall (pole vault), Nicola McDermott (high jump), Cedric Dubler (decathlon), Peter Bol (800m) and Catriona Bisset (800m) met the criteria for automatic nomination for the Australian team travelling to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Olympic silver medallist and NSWIS athlete Nicola McDermott soared over 1.94m to dismantle a youthful field in the women’s high jump, all but booking her ticket to the World Athletics Championships and securing the automatic nomination for the Commonwealth Games – setting up a big year on the world stage in 2022.
View this post on Instagram
After recently recovering from COVID-19, the 25-year-old was happy with the performance given the circumstances, relishing the opportunity to compete on home soil for the first time since her Tokyo heroics.
“Unfortunately, I’ve still been sick throughout the preparation, so I went for a big progression from 1.94m to 1.98m because I knew that if we only had a few jumps – we wanted to make them as high as physically possible,” Nicola said.
“I just feel every day that Olympic silver medal title comes with the responsibility to inspire. It helps me get through training because I know there is a whole fan base out here, to jump out here tonight was just the best.”
US-based Australian and fellow Team NSWIS Jessica Hull made the trip home worthwhile with an emphatic victory over 5000m, putting the field to the sword over the final lap to win in 15:06.13 – with the Oregon University alumni set to return to Hayward Field for the World Athletics Championships.
Jess’ tactical prowess and class combined to prove too slick for the quality field, with Australia’s top middle-distance women unable to keep up with the decisive move that was made by Jess with 500m remaining – saluting on home soil much to the delight of the crowd.
Fellow Australian and silver medallist Rose Davies also hit the 15:10.00 standard with her run of 15:07.49.
To round out the NSWIS’ successes at the Australian Track and Field Championships of 2022, 400m hurdler Sarah Carli proved she is back racing at full strength when she defeated trans-Tasman foe Portia Bing.
The two have gone head-to-head five times over two years, with Bing winning most of the races, but tonight it was the Team NSWIS athlete that prevailed finishing her lap over the sticks in 56.70, with Bing following behind in 57.13.
Article details courtesy Athletics Australia, Image credit Athletics NSW