The 100th Australian Championships. The 100m. 10 seconds. Not quite, but the 10.02 second run from Australia’s fastest man, Rohan Browning, was damn impressive.
Cover image by Casey Sims, courtesy of Athletics Australia. All other photos by Fred Etter unless noted.
The 25-year-old was just one-hundredth-of-a-second outside his personal best of 10.01 seconds, set in his breakthrough heat win at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The ten second barrier has been looming since, and although not broken today, Browning’s series of runs 10.18 in the heats, 10.17 in the semi and then winning the national title by almost two-tenths of a second, suggests it just a matter of time until Sydneysider sees a time starting with a nine.
“It felt good. It is one of those bittersweet ones where, flat wind and I was so close to sub (10 seconds). I was hoping to maybe round down but I’ll take 10.02,” Browning said.
“This has been my best domestic season ever and in the past I have really struggled to run through the rounds. It’s got me hungry for the rest of the year on the international circuit,” Browning said.
“After last year, I’m a lot more robust now; just a little bit older and more mature. I understand my body a lot better and I want to be a threat on the global scene. I’ve got to go sub-10. It’s bittersweet today, but it’s not far off.”
Behind Browning New Zealand’s Dhruv Rodrigues Chico lowered his personal best to 10.21 seconds, while Jacob Despard claimed his first national medal finishing third in 10.26 seconds.
The women’s 1500m lived up to pre-race expectations, with a thrilling contest between the quartet of Jessica Hull, Abbey Caldwell, Linden Hall and Georgia Griffith. With a 2:02.5 final 800m, including a 58.4 final lap, it was Hull who was the victor in a meet record of 4:04.19.
“That was definitely the most nerve wracking one,” Hull said of her contests this summer.
“It’s definitely different when you bring it to a championships. It was fun racing this summer, and I was trying to keep it fun racing today but with a national title on the line and a spot to Budapest, it was a little bit more stressful,” Hull said.
“I thought it could be fast, it could be slow and the idea of racing a little more tactically excited me. When my coach brought me the race plan, I thought, let’s give it a try.
“I knew someone was going to go out at 600m. If it wasn’t Linden, it was going to be me. Once she did it, I thought, get on it.”
It was Abbey Caldwell who took the contest to Hull over the final lap after Linden Hall had upped the tempo, but 21-year-old Caldwell couldn’t quite chase down Hull after she made a run for home with 200m remaining. Caldwell’s time of 4:04.68 was just half a second outside of her personal best, and after a 2:19 opening 800m suggests a big breakthrough will come in a faster race. Hall took bronze in 4:05.65 in a race where the top six broke 4:10.
The men’s high jump was a see-sawing affair, with season leader Joel Baden defeating Australian record holder Brandon Starc. The pair were clear through to 2.23m on the first attempt, before countback tactics came into play. Baden passed at 2.26m while Starc took three attempts to clear it, putting him at a disadvantage . At the next height – 2.29m – Starc was over on the first attempt, while Baden took three. On to 2.32m, a centimetre shy of Baden’s personal best and the highest height Starc had attempted since finishing fifth at the Tokyo Olympics. It came down to a third attempt clearance for victory, for Baden, while Starc missed.
Baden then raised the bar in a bold attempt to grasp the national record – held by Starc and Tim Forsyth at 2.36m – in his own right: 2.37m. After three attempts, it wasn’t to be.
“I’m not quite sure if I am physically there yet, but mentally I feel like I have got it. It was the perfect opportunity to give 2.37m a try, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions,” said Baden.
“Since I got the auto qualifier at 2.33m, the pressure has been off. It just feels good to solidify that World Championships qualifier, my strength levels have been really good and the ambition to just do something exciting.”
Mackenzie Little defended her national title in the javelin, by again beating the reigning world champion, Kelsey-Lee Barber, who opened her season with a 57.05m throw. Little, who opened her season last week in winning the Brisbane Track Classic, improved her season’s best to 61.46m.
The men’s 1500m signalled a emergence of a new wave of contenders in the metric mile, with more than half of the field born in the year 2000 or later. Two-time national 5000m champion Matthew Ramsden was the oldest athlete in the field at 25 years old, while teenage sensation Cameron Myers was the youngest, at 16. They were the two that made the race, but it was a well timed run for home from Queensland’s Callum Davies that was rewarded with the gold medal.
Myers ran an astute tactical race beyond his years for 1300m of the race, controlling the pace at the front in what was initially a moderate, but then increasing, tempo. As things ramped up over the last 600m he was able to keep Ramsden on his shoulder without conceding the lead. But with 200m remaining Ramsden, a seasoned campaigned across the globe, made an assertive dash to the lead that caused Myers to loose rhythm, and with Davies following Ramsden past Myers, leaving Myers boxed. Down the home straight a gap opened up for Myers allowing him to pass Ramsden for silver, but Davies had done enough to cross the line just outside his personal best in a time of 3:37.92.
Myers’ 3:38.02 was a new personal best – and therefore a new Australian U18 record – and was a brilliant performance, especially considering his final 800m was covered in 1:52.4 with a last lap of 54.9 seconds. Ramsden finished in 3:38.34, a strong performance after an injury affected season that saw his withdrawal from the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst on the eve of the race.
Torrie Lewis became the second youngest winner of the women’s 100m at the Australian Championships, clocking 11.38 seconds (-0.4) to finish just behind Singapore’s Veronica Shanti Pereira (11.37), with the pair finishing over the top of Bree Masters (11.41). Kristie Edwards was the third Australian in 11.53.
“I try not to let milestones define me, it’s really great and such an honour but I want to be able to keep moving forward. To be able to do it this young is more fuel for the future,” Lewis said.
“I wasn’t relaxed but I was trying to trick my brain into saying I was just doing another training run and just doing what I do in training. I’m really happy with that, if all goes great I would love to get on that World Championships team.”
Matt Denny claimed his sixth Australian discus title with a throw of 63.20m, securing his place on the Australian team for the World Championships in Budapest in the process.
In the pole vault New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney equalled the meet record of 4.75m held by Nina Kennedy. Compatriot Imogen Ayris was second in 4.40m, while Elyssia Kenshole took out the Australian title with a jump of 4.40m.
The gold medal in the men’s triple jump went to a countback with Aiden Hinson and Connor Murphy both jumping 16.66m. Hinson’s second best jump was 16.54m, to Murphy’s 16.03m.
The men’s and women’s 400m each saw new champions. The rangy style of Luke Van Ratingen leaving the rest of the field behind in a new personal best of 45.88 seconds in the men’s race, while Jessie Andrew stepped up to the one lap distance in style, running a strong third bend to set up a personal best of 52.62 seconds.
Alexandra Hulley won her fifth consecutive hammer throw title with a throw of 67.32m, while Ned Weatherly claimed his third consecutive title in the men’s event with a 68.81m throw. The women’s shot was taken out by Emma Berg with a 15.15m put.
In the Heptathlon Tori West leads Tanielle Crase by just eight points after the opening four events with a score of 3527. After five events in the Decathlon, Alec Diamond leads Christian Paynter by 50 points with a score of 4006.
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