Aussie Champs, Day 3

Saturday, 21 March 2009
Lapierre leaps 8.29m in Brisbane - Australian Champs, day 3

Fabrice Lapierre en route to his come-from-behind 8.29m leap in Brisbane (Getty Images)

Wroe impresses with 400m PB in Brisbane – Australian Champs, Day 2
McLellan eyeing national 100m mark, Vili again beyond 20m in Shot – Australian Champs, Day 1

Brisbane, Australia - Fluctuating wind tormented him but Sydney long jumper Fabrice Lapierre sprang from eighth place to victory on his final attempt at the 87th Australian Championships tonight (21).

His winning jump of 8.29m (+0.8m/s) on his sixth attempt moved Lapierre, 25, to third on the Australian all-time list behind Sydney Olympic finalist Jai Taurima (silver medallist with 8.49m) and Peter Burge (8.30m) and now ahead of Gary Honey who cleared 8.27m in 1984, the year he won silver behind Carl Lewis at the Los Angeles Olympics.

But it was a near thing tonight for Lapierre who flew all the way from College Station, Texas, where he graduated from Texas A&M but still works with “coach V” - Jim Vanhootegem.

Lapierre fouled his first two attempts (with tailwinds of 3.7m/s and then 3.0m/s): “So I had one left and messed it up too,” Pierre explained.

"I had to make it (a safety jump to qualify for the final eight and another three jumps) but I was too slow, behind the board, it was horrible. I certainly thought I got knocked out.

“I took my shoes off and threw them down. I was really upset.”

But his sorry 7.41m distance turned out to be good enough for the eighth and last spot into the final.

“I thought, well, all I’ve got to do is get one jump out and I can win it. But I fouled the next two attempts. I regrouped and the last jump was good.”

It seems Lapierre, who was born in Mauritius, has been making a habit of last minute surprises. He was a late a addition to the field for last year’s IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart and was a shock winner, collecting $30,000 for his 8.14m effort.

Targeting Berlin podium

At 180cm and lightly framed at 66kg, Lapierre is nevertheless extremely quick and his 105kg clean suggests he has the power-to-weight ratio to make good his bid for a medal at the World Championships in Berlin in August.

“I always want to make the final, but I really want to try and get a medal,” said the 2002 World Junior Championship silver medallist. “If I can keep jumping like this I can win a medal at the majors.”

The 2005 NCAA champion and 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Lapierre was an automatic selection for Berlin and is likely to be joined by 20-year-old Brisbane commerce/law student Mitchell Watt.

Watt finished second tonight with 8.10m (+3.0) ahead of training partner Chris Noffke (8.00m/+1.3) - both coached by Gary Bourne - as the top six all bettered 7.70m in a high quality domestic competition.

Despite winds, McLellan clocks meet record 12.74s

The contrary winds blew a few campaigns off the rails, but could not stop Beijing Olympic 100m Hurdles silver medallist Sally McLellan from collecting at least one minor record at these championships.

McLellan’s time of 12.74sec into a 1.3m/s wind was a meet record. She was well clear of runner-up, Japan’s visiting Mami Ishino (13.73).

“I’ve been so mad because I haven’t been able to run fast this whole time and to come out in my last event for the Australian season is just so exciting,” McLellan said.

“That’s my second-fastest (run) on home soil and it’s actually even more exciting in front of a home crowd.”

McLellan is trying to hose down the expectations of Australians who are both intrigued and in admiration of the surprise Olympic medallist.

She is correct in her assessment that the Berlin podium may prove even more difficult to climb and so has been at pains to say she is just hoping to reach another major final.

“It’s going to be a bit tougher this year because we’ll have all the girls in it that were out to injury last year so it’s going to be tough but I think I can do it, especially running that fast,” McLellan said.

Riseley clocks early-season 3:35.71 world lead in 1500m

Victorian Jeff Riseley, who was so sick in Beijing last year, renewed the faith of his many fans by running a personal best and Berlin A-qualifying time to win the 1500m.

Riseley, 23, clocked 3:35.71 and sits at least equal in seventh spot on the Australian all-time rankings alongside the great Herb Elliott who clocked what was then a World record 3:35.6 (hand-timed) to win the 1960 Rome Olympic gold medal.

NSW’s Jeremy Roff continues to impress with his second to Riseley in 3:37.62.

Lewis nabs narrow 400m Hurdles victory for 15th overall title

Tamsyn Lewis, the current World Indoor 800m champion from Melbourne, won the 40m sprint from the 10th barrier to the finish line to win her 15th National title, and her first in the 400m Hurdles.

Lewis, 30, lunged to victory in the last stride to win in 56.27sec from titleholder Lauren Boden, 20, who tied up in 56.33 after looking every bit a winner at halfway.

It was only Lewis’s fifth race over the hurdles and she says she is determined to contest her new event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

She may be seeking refuge from the likes of Pamela Jelimo and other Kenyans by abandoning the two-lap wars, but it is unlikely to be much easier to find a medal even at the Commonwealth Games in the 400m Hurdles which has fellow Australian Jana Rawlinson as the World titleholder and Jamaican Melaine Walker as the Olympic champion.

Mike Hurst (Sydney Daily Telegraph) for the IAAF

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