McLellan’s 12.81 the highlight in Sydney
Saturday 12 January 2008
Sydney, Australia - Sally McLellan had hoped to pick up where she finished last season but running the fastest 100m Hurdles ever by an Australian at home she exceeded her own expectations in the Sydney Track Classic.
The exciting young Queenslander clocked 12.81 (tailwind 1.1m/s) to lead runner-up Andrea Miller (13.13) to a New Zealand national record witnessed by some 4000 enthusiastic fans on a warm night at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush.
Scott Martin reached a career best at the Sydney Track Classic
“I’m really happy with that. It’s up about three levels on last year,” McLellan, 21, said following her first 100m Hurdles race since her disappointing elimination in the semi-finals at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.
“This (12.81) is what the top people in the world do. It shows I’m going to be there at the Olympics. I’m going to be one of the top girls there.”
Aim for Beijing - ‘To be a fierce competitor’
Convincing victory for Tamsyn Lewis at the Sydney Track Classic
Yes, well, that’s what many of her supporters thought coming into Osaka, but McLellan set herself quite a heavy program starting on August 26 with 100m sprint runs of 11.14 and 11.31, followed the next day by 11.32 for eighth in her semi. [It took 11.26 to reach the final.] On the same day she clocked 12.85 in the hurdles first round, then 12.82 for fifth in her semi, missing the final by one place.
This year it will be different. By June she intends to abandon the sprint and race only over the barriers through to and including the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.
“I’ve been on the national team since I was 16. I’m not ‘going for the experience’. I don’t think I’m ‘up and coming’ anymore. I’m going to Beijing to be a fierce competitor,” McLellan stressed.
Before then however there are some important domestic meets including the Melbourne Grand Prix on 24 February and the Australian Championships which double as the major Olympic selection trial from 28 February 28 to 2 March.
And then McLellan has ambitions at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, 7-9 March where she plans to contest the 60m Hurdles.
McLellan, who opened her night anchoring the winning 2x100m Relay, concluded her work with another strong win in the 100m in 11.26 (+3.0m/s) from New Zealander Monique Williams (11.61) and Lauren Hewitt (also 11.61) with another New Zealander, Andrea Miller, fourth in 11.62.
Williams, 22, from Hamilton, the New Zealand titlesholder for 100, 200 and also 400, ran a personal best 23.45 (+1.1) to win the 200m from 1999 World Championship finalist Lauren Hewitt (23.67) and Fiji’s Makelesi Batimala (23.97).
Dolphin nails Beijing 200m qualifier
Like primary school teacher Williams, James Dolphin proved that Kiwis can fly afterall when he brought up a New Zealand 200 double in winning the men’s race in 20.56 blessed with a perfect 2.0m/s tailwind.
“That’s my Olympic qualifier,” said Dolphin. “That’s why I came to Australia. Our Beijing qualifying time is 20.59.”
Dolphin, 24, hails from Whangaparaoa, a city of 25,000 just north of Auckland on New Zealand’s north island. He is a fulltime sales representative for Mizuno. He has won the sprint double at the last three New Zealand championships and with his filmstar good looks he is an ornament to the sport.
Henry Mitchell, from the host state of New South Wales, made up for his disqualification in the 2x100 relay with teammate Matt Shirvington by grabbing second in the 200 in 20.79 in the same time as third-placed Adam Miller (AIS).
Earlier in the night Miller, originally a teenage baseball star from Port Macquarie on the NSW north coast, made his fastest debut to a track season in winning the 100 in 10.29 (+1.7) from American John Wood (10.41), Dolphin (10.46) and Daniel Batman (10.49) who was also fourth over 200 in 20.80.
Miller began the program winning the 2x100 relay with teammate Isaac Ntiamoah in a very smart 20.10, the kind of time which suggests Australia might mount a medal challenge in the 4x100 at Beijing when Josh Ross, Patrick Johnson, Shirvington and others shift into top gear.
Despite sore foot, Martin reaches 20.63m PB
The surprisingly large crowd responded as one with a mighty roar when balding young Victorian giant Scott Martin shocked even himself with a personal best final-round 20.63m to win the shot put.
Strategically conducted adjacent to the finish line, the shot seen at close quarters was extremely well supported throughout the rounds and Martin was mobbed by autograph hunters as he departed the arena.
“I really want to do the World Indoors,” Martin said, although much depends on whether he continues to recover from a foot injury which ruined the last year.
“It’s pretty bad at the moment. I’ve been doing some throws but haven’t been able to do the full rotary action in training for about the last six weeks. That’s why I was a bit erratic tonight.”
Melinda Vernon, 22, winner of the Zatopek Classic 10,000 late last year, was impressive running alone out front in winning the 1500 in a personal best 4:22.18 from Holland’s Marije te Raa (4:23.76), NSW’s Chloe Tighe (4:24.21) and Lara Tamsett (4:26.31).
Vernon said she thought she “might get third or second” at the shorter distance but she has improved so much since surgeons broke her jaw last June to reset it a centimetre forward so that it would no longer press against her windpipe.
When she was seven, Vernon was fitted with a cochlear implant without which she could not hear.
“However it pressed against my jaw and prevented it growing properly on that side,” Vernon explained. "From the age of 10 to 21 I thought I had been getting asthma and it got worse and worse.
“Then the doctors decided to break my jaw because they realised it was pressing on my airways. It’s all worth it in the end.”
In other performances of note:
Tamsyn Lewis (2:02.46) won the 800m by five metres from fellow Victorian, Madeleine Pape (2:03.49).
Justin Merlino opened his season with a stylish win in the 110m Hurdles in 13.69 (+2.2) well clear of fellow NSW athlete Greg Eyears (14.13).
Joel Milburn (AIS) ran elegantly and efficiently through the backstraight headwind and finished on to win the 400m in 46.18 from Osaka relay representative Dylan Grant (46.45), the Queenslander looking to have plenty of room for improvement on his season opener.
Lachlan Chisholm completely dominated the 1500m to win in 3:42.96 from fellow NSW runner Brad Woods (3:45.94).
And courageous little Olivia Tauro showed that with experience and further conditioning she could become an international 400m representative, hanging on grimly to win in 53.31 from Ireland’s Michelle Carey (53.61) and fellow NSW starlets Trisha Greaves (53.95) and Jamie-Lee Starr (54.07).
Mike Hurst (The Daily Telegraph in Sydney) for the IAAF