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Denny breaks national record as Spencer wins classic 1500m

Matt Denny set the field alight while Adam Spencer did the same on the track on the third day of the Australian Championships in Adelaide.

Matt Denny set the field alight while Adam Spencer did the same on the track on the third day of the Australian Championships in Adelaide.

Cover image by Casey Sims courtesy of Athletics Australia

Denny bettered his own national record by almost a metre with a throw of 69.35m.

A happy Matt Denny. Photo by Casey Sims for Athletics Australia.

It’s a quality performance that only 25 athletes have bettered since the year 2000. In the rarified conditions of the Olympics and big stadia throwing, only Virgilijus Alekna in Athens has thrown further (in winning gold in Athens in 2024) within the same timeframe.

Matt Denny prepares to throw. Photo by Fred Etter.

“I have said before that my focus is to win the Olympics and I feel like a lot of people haven’t really taken that too seriously, which is fair enough considering I’m fourth in the order right now,” Denny said.

“Everyone knows I’m no BS when it comes to majors. I’m there to compete and to win medals and try to win championships.”

Photo by Fred Etter

In the most anticipated race of the Championships it was Adam Spencer who defeated a deep 1500m field that had seven contenders remaining with a chance of victory as they entered the home straight for the final time.

After a fast first 100m of the race the pace settled before Stewart McSweyn took the reigns and wound up the pace with a 61 second first lap followed by a 59 second second. With 500m to go McSweyn was making his major move stringing the field out almost to single file, with Olli Hoare, Cameron Myers and Jesse Hunt poised so strike over the last lap.

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But it was Spencer, who was sixth at the bell, who made a decisive move with 200m remaining, putting himself onto McSweyn’s shoulder before pulling into the lead as he entered the straight. With a clear run to the line the 22-year-old stopped the clock at 3:37.68 with his final lap run in approximately 54.5 seconds.

Hoare took second in a close battle with Hunt for the minor medals, 3:37.83 to 3:37.88. McSweyn (3:38.66), Myers (3:38.74), Jack Anstey (3:38.94) and reigning champion Callum Davies (3:39.56) were the next finishers.

“I didn’t expect that,” Spencer told reporters trackside.

“I thought I was going to fall over the last 20 metres. My legs were lactic and I saw the shadows of everyone coming, but I managed to get over the line, so I’m pretty happy.”

“If you told me 12 months ago that I was going to have this sort of year, I wouldn’t have believed you. I actually won my first national title [as a junior] on this track 10 years ago and it’s all been about increasing training slightly every year,” Spencer said.

With the Australian Championships not being a selection trial for the Olympics Spencer’s win doesn’t guarantee him selection. However, with the Olympic qualifying standard in hand from last season he is eligible to be selected immediately after the Nationals at the discretion of the selectors.

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Photo by Fred Etter
Photo by Casey Sims courtesy of Athletics Australia.

The women’s 1500m wound up in pace in a similar fashion, with Linden Hall doing the work, but it was a clear display of dominance by Jessica Hull over the final lap which defined her victory. Hull stopped the clock in 4:01.39 with a fast final lap seeing her over two seconds clear from Georgia Griffith (4:03.68) and Hall (4:05.03).

Photo by Fred Etter.

World champion Nina Kennedy made light work of the pole vault, clearing 4.65m before three unsuccessful attempts at 4.75m.

“I jumped off 12 steps. It’s a medium run for me because I’m coming off a back stress fracture after last season, so to come out and also jump close to my best is a nice confidence booster,” Kennedy said.

“Doha Diamond League and Marrakech Diamond League are next for me, and that will be the first time I’ve seen the girls since last year. I’m coming in good shape and I hope they’re a little scared.”

There were upset victories in both 100m races with junior Sebastian Sultana and Naa Anang taking victories.

Photo by Casey Sims courtesy of Athletics Australia

Sultana sped into contention with a new personal best in the semi-finals at 10.17 seconds (+1.4) and held his nerve in the final, running away from the field over the final 30 metres to clock 10.27 (-1.2). He becomes the third youngest man to win the 100m title behind Paul Narracott and Fred Martin.

“I try to just focus on myself and work on my execution. It’s a major confidence boost, I knew I could do it but I just had to put the race together. My goal and focus is World Relays and then potentially the Olympics and World Juniors later on in the year,” Sultana said.

Taking the silver medal was Joshua Azzopardi in 10.39 seconds while Jacob Despard edged out Rohan Browning by one-thousandth-of-a-second for bronze with both athletes clocking 10.41 seconds.

In the 100m Bree Masters started as favourite without national record holder Torrie Lewis lining up, but was affected by illness and finished out of the medals with Naa Anang (11.34), Ella Connolly (11.37) and Ebony Lane (11.41) filling the podium.

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Photo by Casey Sims courtesy of Athletics Australia

Yual Reath took out the high jump with a great clearance at 2.29m before bowing out of the competition at the Olympic qualifying height of 2.33m. Joel Baden was second in 2.24m after making attempts at 2.27m, 2.29 and 2.31 in an attempt to take victory, being behind on count back after Reath’s opening attempt clearance at 2.27m. Roman Anastasios equalled his personal best of 2.21m in finishing third.

Photo by Fred Etter.

In the javelin it was World Championship bronze medallist Mackenzie Little who took victory in 61.85m, with Kathryn Mitchell second in 60.28m and Kelsey-Lee Barber third in 55.13m.

Photo by Fred Etter

Ellie Beer set her fourth personal best of the season to take a clear victory in the women’s 400m. The 21-year-old Gold Coast athlete clocked 51.59 seconds to move into the top 20 Australian all-time in 19th place. Mikaela Selaidinakos (53.33s) and Rebecca Bennett (53.60s) filled the podium.

20-year-old Cooper Sherman took out his maiden national title in the men’s race 45.89 seconds ahead of defending champion Luke Van Ratingen (46.31s) and evergreen Alex Beck (46.64s).

Connor Murphy took out the triple jump, following in the footsteps of his father Andrew, with a jump of 16.41m. Aiden Hinson took silver in 16.36m and Shemaiah James bronze in 16.08m. Desleigh Owusu won the women’s event in 13.59m from Kayla Cuba (13.26m) and Chloe Grenade (12.92m).

In the 3000m steeplechase pre-race favourite Ed Trippas suffered an injury with about a kilometre to run, paving the way for Matthew Clarke to run to victory in front of his adopted home crowd. Clarke clocked 8:41.49 with Ben Buckingham second in 8:43.15 and Liam Cashin third in 8:44.23.

Photo by Fred Etter

Ash Moloney took out the Decathlon with a performance of 7884 points, his first full competition since December 2022. It provides a basis for the 24-year-old Olympic bronze medallist to build ranking points towards qualifying for Paris, with the Oceania Championships in June in Fiji a key upcoming competition.

The Open events of the Australian Championships conclude tomorrow with the women’s 800m the feature event. Australian junior record holder Claudia Hollingsworth takes on open national record holder Catriona Bisset, World Championships semi-finalist Abbey Caldwell and the speedy Bendere Oboya, who continues to impress in her transition from the 400m to 800m.

Photo Gallery

Highlights of Day 3 are available here with thanks to Fred Etter. Download photos using the code you receive when you subscribe to our newsletter.

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