Ross races into history books with Burnie win
Three-time national 100m champion Joshua Ross has confirmed he is in the best possible shape ahead of what promises to be a super summer of sprinting, taking out his second Burnie Gift (Monday).
Ross produced a scintillating run from scratch to become the first man in history to win two Burnie Gifts from the back mark after also capturing the event in 2004. When combined with his 2005 win at the Australia Post Stawell Gift off scratch, along with his 2003 Stawell victory, his Burnie win elevates him to a position as arguably the most successful sprinter in the history of professional athletics in Australia.
After reaching the final of the Queanbeyan and Mt Gambier gifts, Ross just shaded rising Tasmanian teenage star Sam Croswell (5.5m) in the 120m Burnie final, with both recording the super slick time of 12.04 seconds. Even considering the 3.5 metres per second tailwind, the time for Ross is fast – equating to just outside 10.00 for 100m.
Ross collected the $10,000 winners cheque after the photo finish revealed his chest hit the line a fraction ahead of Crosswell.
The early season from has Ross well placed to take on Patrick Johnson, Ambrose Ezenwa, Matt Shirvington, Daniel Batman and Adam Miller during what promises to be a series of entertaining encounters over the summer. Last season Shirvington, Johnson, Batman and Miller traded victories before Ross surprised everyone by claiming his third national title. The summer of sprinting begins with the National Series meeting in Perth this Saturday, before the Telstra A-Series kicks off in Canberra on 27 January.
Despite winning his third consecutive national title last year and running his second fastest time ever (10.23) in the second round of the Commonwealth Games, Ross was disappointed not to make the final of the Games after a poor semi-final run. He strained his hamstring in the heats of the relay, ending a somewhat lacklustre season compared to his meteoric rise over the past two years.
However a winter spent preparing at home rather than a trip to Europe for competition, a change of environment following a move from the NSW’s Central Coast to Sydney, along with a change of coach from Tony Fairweather to Sydney-based Emil Rizk appears to have the Athens Olympian back on track.
The win yesterday offers the possibility for Ross to re-launch his career where it started – in Perth - at Saturday’s Drug Free Track and Field Classic at Perry Lakes.
Despite winning the 2003 Stawell Gift it was his win in Burnie off scratch in 2004 that began his journey to the top of Australian sprinting. Having seen the run in Burnie, Australian athletics official Brian Roe pestered Athletics Australia to allow Ross to compete in Perth where he surprised by finishing third in the final clocking 10.37. Six weeks later he won the national title and was selected to run the 100m in Athens where he equaled his personal best in the heat and lowered it to 10.22 in the second round.
Ross set his current personal best of 10.12 in Perth in 2005 and considering Patrick Johnson’s 2003 exploits, running 9.90 (+5.7 m/s) in the heats before a blistering 9.88 (+3.6) in the final, it is easy to see why all the top echelon of Australia’s sprinters will converge on Perry Lakes this Saturday in search of the World Championships A qualifying time of 10.21.
Crosswell, the son of Victorian Football League legend Brent, has had a week to remember, running four 400 metres, three 200’s and six 120’s in seven days, winning three finals out of five, including a coveted 200m and 400m double in Devonport.
It is a rapid rise for an athlete who 18 months ago was a complete unknown in running circles and more likely to pursue a career in soccer. For his efforts over the Christmas carnival season he has pocketed $7100 in prizemoney.
In other events in Burnie, steeplechaser Donna MacFarlane demonstrated why she is ranked in the top ten in the world in her event, leaving the otherwise all male field in the Tasmanian 1600 metres handicap well behind in her wake.
Despite being pulled 10 metres to a mark of 190m following her second place in the equivalent race at Latrobe two weeks earlier, MacFarlane never looked threatened. Her time of 3:59.18 was more than nine seconds quicker than she had run at Latrobe, in arguably less favourable conditions.
The 2007 domestic season kicks off this Saturday in Perth with the Drug Free Track and Field Classic at Perry Lakes with further information available at www.waathletics.org.au