Powell Back But Mottram Best in Melbourne GP - 9March06-

Powell returns, but Mottram steals the show - Melbourne IAAF World Athletics Tour report



Thursday 9 March 2006
Melbourne, Australia - Asafa Powell showed a glimpse of what made him the World’s Fastest Man in his winning 100m comeback, but Craig Mottram stole the show with a spectacular Australian and Oceania runaway record in the 2000m at the Telstra A-Series and first leg of the World Athletics Tour 2006 at Melbourne Olympic Park.

Powell’s comeback from injury begins

Asafa Powell makes his return from injury in Melbourne
(Getty Images)

Powell fired his jets only through to 60m and then pulled the metaphoric parachute, virtually jogging to the line in 10.29sec into a 1.2m headwind to defeat Trinidad’s Darrel Brown (10.34), Australia’s Joshua Ross (10.41), Trinidad’s Marc Burns (10.42), Jamaica’s 2005 World championship silver medallist Michael Frater (10.53) and England’s Jason Gardener (10.56).

Jamaica’s Ainsley Waugh won the other heat in 10.40 (headwind 0.6m/s) from 2002 World Cup winner, Nigeria’s Uchenna Emedolou (10.44) and England’s Athens Olympic relay gold medallist Darren Campbell (10.44).

“I was quite nervous out there,” Powell said after his first 100m race from the blocks since he was injured at the Jamaican Championships last year, a setback which ruled him out of the Helsinki World Championships in August.

Donna McFarlane after her 3000m PB in Melbourne
(Getty Images)

"I haven’t been on the track for almost a year now. So I need the confidence, but I’m the (100m) World recordholder and I had to prove that I am.

"I’m running against a pretty good field - Michael Frater, Marc Burns and the other guys.

“I’m feeling pretty good… But you can look for something different at the Commonwealth Games because this is my first event.”

Nathan Deakes en route to his 5000m Race Walk national record in Melbourne
(Getty Images)

Another national record for Mottram as Aussie joins elite company

Many of the world’s finest athletes have assembled in Australia for a return to the cavernous 100,000 capacity MCG 50 years after track and field was last conducted there for the 1956 Olympic Games. The 18th Commonwealth Games run from March 15-26.

Last night was the final tune-up for the Games and Australians now understand that Craig Mottram is the real deal. He has not received the recognition he deserves after snatching the bronze medal on the line in the 5000m in Helsinki.

But the way he ripped 10 seconds off the national record set by Simon Doyle (5min 00.84sec in 1992) with a breakaway 2000m win in 4:50.76 was astonishing.

Mottram put nearly seven seconds on runner-up England’s Nick McCormick (4:57.39) and New Zealand’s Adrian Blincoe (4:59.09), all three breaking Doyle’s Australian all-comers record.

The performance ranks Mottram, 25, as the seventh fastest performer on a star-studded all-time list behind Athens Olympic 1500-5000 champion Hicham El Guerrouj (4:44.79 WR), Sydney Olympic 5000m silver medallist Ali Saidi-Sief (4:46.88), Atlanta Olympic 1500m champion Noureddine Morceli (4:47.88 WR), Atlanta Olympic 5000m champion Venuste Niyongabo (4:48.69), former World cross-country champion John Kibowen (4:48.74) and Sydney Olympic 1500m champion Noah Ngeny (4:50.08).

The 188cm-tall former Australian schools triathlon champion is now faster than Los Angeles Olympic 5000m champion Said Aouita (4:50.81 WR), the world two-mile recordholder Daniel Komen (4:51.30), the 1983 Helsinki World 1500m champion Steve Cram (4:51.39 WR) and the 1976 Montreal Olympic 1500m champion John Walker (4:51.52) who held the Oceania area record until last night.

“Not to be cocky or anything but I knew the record would go,” Mottram said.

Mottram said he was still very wary of world 5000m champion Ben Limo and his two fellow Kenyans, including teenager Augustine Choge who is being spoken of as having the potential to run in the footsteps of revered World recordbreakers Henry Rono and Daniel Komen.

“There is not going to be a pacemaker, it is going to be unpredictable, but I am ready to go,” said Mottram, who is chasing a 1500-5000 double.

Big improvement for McFarlane in 3000m

There was a shock for one of Mottram’s great training partners, Benita Johnson, with the 2003 World cross-country champion finishing only seventh in the 3000m in 8:59.80 far behind the shock winner, Tasmanian steeplechaser Donna MacFarlane who took half a minute from her personal best time to clock 8:50.65.

“That’s an awesome preparation,” MacFarlane enthused. “I couldn’t have asked for more.”

MacFarlane displayed great strength in the home straight to beat Australian 5000m titleholder Eloise Wellings (8:51.56), New Zealand’s 2005 World Mountain Running champion Kate McIlroy (8:53.12) and Australia’s former Steeplechase World recordholder Melissa Rollison (8:54.86) among others.

Johnson, who will run 10,000m at the Melbourne Games, admitted: “I’m pretty disappointed with that but there’s two weeks until the Commonwealth Games and so I’m not too concerned. I just felt flat and started to fall off the pace.”

Australia’s 2003 World champion Jana Pittman was among many athletes on the entry lists who decided at the last moment not to compete. She has had a slight tightness in her left hamstring since winning the 400m Hurdles last Friday in cold, rainy weather in the Brisbane A-Series.

When she came to warm-up last night and discovered England’s Nicola Sanders had not arrived, she decided wisely not to risk aggravating the problem so close to defending her Games title.

National record for Deakes

Australia’s Athens Olympic 20km Walk bronze medallist Nathan Deakes showed he has put injuries behind him by smashing the national 5000m track walk record with his win in 18:45.19 ahead of 2003 Paris World championships fifth-placed Luke Adams (19:01.73).

“I am really desperate to defend (his Commonwealth 20km and 50km titles) at home and I have a lot driving me at the moment,” Deakes, 28, said. “Being disqualified in Athens when in sight of a 50km gold medal still hurts and then I had the disappointment of missing the World Championships in Helsinki last year when I had the world’s fastest time and then picked up an injury.”

6.91 for Thompson

Bronwyn Thompson, a paediatric physiotherapist from Queensland, demonstrated she is at last finding the form which enabled her to place fourth in the Athens Olympic Long Jump. In the first post-Olympic meet in Rieti she shattered her knee and has had several setbacks since her reconstruction surgery.

But last night she was smiling again after an impressive 6.91m (+1.5m/s) win from fellow Aussie Kerrie Taurima (6.74m, +2.4m/s) - wife of Sydney Olympic Long Jump silver medallist Jai Taurima - and England’s Jade Johnson (6.49m).

“My goal is to go beyond 7m, hopefully in the Games and if not, then later in the year,” said Thompson who holds the Australian record at 7m.

Australian Institute of Sport scholarship-holder Tim Parravicini won the men’s Long Jump with 8.07m (+0.7m/s) narrowly from England’s Greg Rutherford (8.06m, +1.5m/s).

Australian recordholder Kym Howe won the Pole Vault at 4.50m from Tatiana Grigorieva (4.30), while the slightly disappointing men’s event went to Steve Hooker (5.60m) from England’s Steven Lewis (5.50m) with 2001 Edmonton World champion Dmitri Markov also clearing 5.50m.

New Zealand’s mighty Valerie Vili easily won the Shot Put with 19.13m and South Australia’s Brooke Krueger-Billett, the former tuna fish throwing World champion in her spare time, won a competitive Hammer Throw with 68.61m from Canadian Jennifer Joyce (66.06m).

Nigeria’s James Godday, who dipped below 45sec in Abuja recently, won a thrilling 400m in 45.65sec from Trinidad’s Ato Modibo (45.72), Australia’s Athens Olympic relay silver medal anchorman Clinton Hill (45.75) and the 2001 Edmonton World champion Avard Moncur (46.04) of the Bahamas.

In an even closer finish, Nigeria’s Uichenna Emedolu won the 200m in 20.63 (-0.4m/s) from Australia’s stocky Daniel Batman (20.64) who did a full sommersault after dipping on the line.

But there was no need to dip for Jamaica’s Kemel Thompson who won the 400m Hurdles in 48.59sec convincingly ahead of South Africa’s Louis Van Zyl (49.35).

Mike Hurst (Sydney Daily Telegraph) for the IAAF