Donaldson Does It For NZ

Donaldson sprints back from injury and into Games team
28 January 2006

Born-again sprinter Chris Donaldson’s father made a movie about the World’s Fastest Indian motorcycle.

His son may not be the world’s fastest 100m runner – but the Otago rocket is rapid enough to clinch a place in New Zealand’s 4x100m relay team for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Donaldson, 30, capped a miracle comeback from a career-crippling injury yesterday to finish second in the men’s 100m dash at the national track and field championships at QEII Stadium.

The first three finishers cemented places in the six-man relay meaning Donaldson will join James Dolphin (first) and surprise package Carl Van der Speck (third) in Melbourne. The three remaining places will be filled after next week’s Australian national championships in Sydney.

But Donaldson will definitely be there, and so he should be after surviving a horror injury run.

After making the 100m and 200m finals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Donaldson was struck down by a severe achilles tendon problems which forced him out of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. A devastated Donaldson had to front the New Zealand media at the Olympic village in Sydney to concede he had lost his race against time.

Injury also cost him a spot on the 2002 Commonwealth Games team in Manchester and he has only recently battled back to full fitness.

AdvertisementAdvertisementDonaldson admitted yesterday that he was close to quitting especially after he “really struggled” last season and barely made the national final.

“I got to the point where I had to reassess,” he said.

He had to search inside to see whether he still had the passion. Hesought the opinion of people close to him and they encouraged him to continue competing.

Donaldson believes this is the best team he has been involved with in 13 years. He is confident it can qualify for the final in Melbourne, and “then anything can happen”.

Only four Kiwis can line up in the relay, so now the race is on to get their mitts on a baton.

Athletics New Zealand high performance director Eric Hollingsworth hailed Donaldson’s qualification and return from injury as “a great story”.

" He’s worked his way back … He’s come out and he really is one of the leaders in the squad and I’m delighted to see him qualify for the games."

Donaldson was disconcerted to discover yesterday that he had been drawn in the outside lane (eight) for the final despite posting the second-fastest qualifying time behind Dolphin, who won their heat – the fastest of four preliminaries.

He had been hoping to get “direct contact” with Dolphin and other top contenders in the middle lanes.

“I had no idea of where I was when I finished and crossed the line, so I had to kind of look across and have a look.”

The anxious glance confirmed he was second in 10.54sec – just behind Dolphin who clocked 10.52.

No other athletes qualified for Melbourne on the first day of the two-day national meet yesterday. Auckland’s Jane Arnott racked up her 10th consecutive 400m title in 52.77sec. The Games target is 52.40sec. Hammer thrower Phil Jensen won a 13th national crown in 65.85m but was still almost 3m outside the Melbourne mark.

Olympic triathlon champion Hamish Carter finished seventh in the 5000m in his first track run since 2001. “It was just what I needed. And great to run against New Zealand’s best.”