Cover image courtesy of David Tarbotton
Nicola McDermott has broken the Australian high jump record with a jump of 2.00m at the Australian Championships in Sydney.
The performance won the 24-year-old the Betty Cuthbert Award for the outstanding performance of the meet, which doubled as the Selection Trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games. It was a stellar performance, amongst many memorable ones.
With Tokyo qualified Eleanor Patterson, the former national record holder at 1.99m, not competing, McDermott entered the competition with only silver medallist Emily Whelan still in the competition, at 1.86m. She cleared each height on her first attempt up to 1.97m – over the Olympic qualifier that she had already bettered on a number of occasions. From there, the bar moved to the magical 2 metre barrier, which separates good from great jumpers; competitive athletes, from global medal threats.
The first attempt was solid, but not successful. The second… successful, with the elation at the breakthrough evident on McDermott’s face as much as it was from the crowd’s reaction.
The nature of horizontal jumps is that everyone ends in failure… for McDermott it was three attempts at 2.03m, but the competition on the biggest day in Australian domestic competition sets the scene for the Central Coast native to take on the world in Tokyo in under 100 days time.
The performance also locked in Olympic selection for McDermott, one of a eleven athletes who did so over the championships by winning and having the Olympic Qualifying mark in their possession.
Most had the qualifier in their back pocket before coming to Sydney – national pole vault record holder Nina Kennedy the most prolific (as she seems to have reached the 4.75m mark almost every time she stepped on the runway this season). But the most emphatic addition came in the men’s 1500m, with Jye Edwards running a meet record of 3:33.99 to run his way onto the team for Tokyo.
The postponement of the Olympic Games from 2020 to 2021 has meant a number of things. But most fundamentally, it means that some athletes who would not have been Olympians last year, will be this year (and disappointingly for some, the converse is also true). Had the Olympic Games been run in 2020 it would have been very likely that Stewart McSweyn, Matthew Ramsden and Ryan Gregson would have been Australia’s three representatives. Jye Edwards, with a 3:41 personal best from 2017, wasn’t in the picture. The NSW born, ACT based athlete has now gained selection for Tokyo. He has been the form athlete of the domestic season, but nominally national record holder McSweyn was the favourite to take out the national title. In part thanks to McSweyn’s brave front running, Edwards has leapfrogged all before him for Olympic selection.
“I just made that split second decision to go after Stewy and I’m so happy it paid off,” Edwards said after the race.
The race was fast from the outset, with McSweyn and Edwards breaking away from the rest of the field. They covered the first 800m in 1:52 and the only question was firstly, whether Edwards would hang on and be pulled through under the 3:35 qualifying mark; and then secondly, when he was still there over the final lap, could he take the win? The answer was affirmative to both, passing the Tasmanian in the home straight to move to ninth on the Australian all-time list, in a meet record. McSweyn finished second in 3:34.55, while Rorey Hunter took bronze (3:37.32) ahead of two-time Olympian and former national record holder Gregson (3:37.84), with Olympic qualifier Ramsden sixth in 3:38.57. It all makes Australia’s selections for the Games even more intriguing, with 3:32 indoor qualifier Ollie Hoare choosing not to run the National Championships.
From talented to world class in the past year, Ashley Moloney took out the national Decathlon crown ahead of training partner Cedric Dubler. Moloney’s 8284 points was the second highest of his career behind the 8492 points national record he set back in December and bettered the track record that Dubler set in 2016 to record his maiden Olympic team selection. Dubler recorded a class 8175 points for second.
On his home track Rohan Browning showed his absolute dominance over Australia’s 100m men, taking victory in 10.09 seconds. His runs of 10.18 seconds in the semi-final and 10.39 seconds in the heats were also faster than anyone in the field could muster, except for second placed New Zealander Edward Osei-Nketia, who was second in the final in 10.31 seconds.
National long jump record holder Brooke Stratton had a very secure World Ranking path to Olympic selection, but not the qualifying mark that would gain automatic selection. That’s no longer a worry, with a 6.84m fourth round jump surpassing the mark and taking victory, and with it, automatic Olympic selection.
In the women’s middle distance races it was national record holders Catriona Bisset and Linden Hall who cemented their places in the team with wins in 2:00.45 and 4:07.56 respectively. Just as excitingly, talent that will evolve over the next Olympiad took silver in each event, with 15-year-old Claudia Hollingsworth kicking home in 2:01.75 and Abbey Caldwell running a sub-64 second last lap for a new personal best of 4:08.67.
Genevieve Gregson ran tired in the 3000m Steeplechase after finishing third in the 1500m the night prior in 4:10.34 and fended off a spirited run from Cara Feain-Ryan to win 9:36.85 to 9:38.39.
Liz Clay cemented her selection with a 12.97 second victory in the 100m hurdles from Hannah Jones. All three medallists ran quicker in their heat than their final: Clay (12.96 vs 19.97), Jones (12.94 – moving to sixth on the Australian all-time list – vs 13.09) and Abbie Taddeo (13.07 vs 13.19).
Riley Day showed the field a clean pair of heels in the 200m, clocking 23.43 seconds on the same track that she recorded her Olympic qualifying mark and personal best of 22.77 seconds. Bendere Oboya did likewise in the 400m, with victory in 52.20 seconds off the back of her Olympic qualifier from the 2019 World Championships.
In the field, Dani Stevens took out another national title – her 16th in the discus, with a throw of 62.74m – and locked in selection to her fourth Olympic team. In second, Taryn Gollshewsky set a new personal best of 61.05m and strengthened her World Ranking and prospects of Olympic selection.
All other winners or places at Nationals now rely on the discretion of selectors to gain their place in the team. There were some performances that will make a mark in the selectors minds, as well as gaining valuable World Athletics Ranking points needed for selection in quota positions. We’ll break all of that down in a separate article later in the week, but the following were particularly noteworthy.
Victoria’s Hana Basic continued her meteoric rise this season, recording the fastest winning performance ever at the Nationals in taking out the 100m in 11.23 seconds. The performance bolsters Basic’s World Ranking and chances of selection for Tokyo.
Ben Buckingham was the hot favourite for the men’s 3000m steeplechase, but with an inspired performance it was James Nipperess who took victory in the dying stages of the race with a determined sprint to the line. It was Nipperess’ sixth national title but perhaps the most valuable: combined with the 8:30.13 personal best he set, it secures valuable World Athletics Ranking Points. The Sydney University Athletics Club athlete should now sit 33rd in the rankings, for the 45 person field, while Buckingham will remain in 26th position.
Australian record holder Kathryn Mitchell is on the path to her third Olympic Games after claiming the national title in 63.34m, defeating world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber (61.09m) in the process. Mitchell doesn’t (yet) have the qualifying standard and is one performance short of having a World Ranking, but one suspects that given another competition or two, one or both of those problems will be solved.
Henry Frayne took out his maiden national long jump title with a 7.97m leap. He has a strong world ranking that is strengthened further by his win, making selection in his third Olympic team a strong likelihood.
Looking to gain selection in their first Olympic teams are Christopher Douglas and Alex Beck. They respectively took out the 400m hurdles and 400m titles, with Beck adding the 200m to the trophy cabinet also. Douglas ran a swift 49.50 seconds to win by almost two seconds. Beck clocked 46.41 seconds to take victory by half a second ahead of Steve Solomon. Solomon’s best race of the championships was his heat, where he cruised to a 46.82 second victory, but that shouldn’t detract from Beck’s performance, especially as he clocked a swift 46.14 seconds in his heat.
A summary of results is presented below.
100m (0.5) Hana Basic 11.23, Bree Masters 11.51 [SF 11.47 w0.5], Naa Anang 11.62, Monique Quirk 11.69, Sophia Fighera 11.80, Kristie Edwards 11.81, Ebony Lane 11.82, Taylah Cruttenden 11.83 [SF 11.76 w0.3; U20 11.64 w0.1]
200m (-1.3) Riley Day 23.43, Monique Quirk 23.83, Sophia Fighera 23.92, Larissa Pasternatsky 23.98
400m Bendere Oboya 52.20, Ellie Beer 52.76, Anneliese Rubie 53.45, Angeline Blackburn 53.83
800m Catriona Bisset 2:00.45, Claudia Hollingsworth 2:01.75, Tess Kirsopp-Cole 2:03.85, Rose Pittman 2:04.63, Amy Robinson 2:04.90
1500m Linden Hall 4:07.56, Abbey Caldwell 4:08.67, Genevieve Gregson 4:10.34, Lauren Ryan 4:14.11, Amy Robinson 4:16.51
100m H (-0.5) Liz Clay 12.97 [Heat 12.96 w0.0], Hannah Jones 13.09 [Heat 12.94 w1.1 (#6 Australian All-Time)], Abbie Taddeo 13.18 [Heat 13.07 w0.0], Celeste Mucci 13.19, Brianna Beahan 13.40, Michelle Jenneke 13.54 [Heat 13.40 w0.0]
400m H Lauren Boden 56.56, Genevieve Cowie 58.24, Brodee Mate 59.67
3000m St Genevieve Gregson 9:36.85, Cara Feain-Ryan 9:38.39 (#8 Australian All-Time), Paige Campbell 9:46.72, Brielle Erbacher 9:49.04, Stella Radford 9:55.12, Georgia Winkcup 9:58.97, Victoria Mitchell 10:10.70
10,000m Walk Katie Hayward 43:46.05, Rebecca Henderson 45:13.77, Clara Smith 47:01.69
Long Jump Brooke Stratton 6.84m (1.2) (Olympic qualifier, SOPAC Track Record), Annie McGuire 6.37m (0.7), Samantha Dale 6.30m (1.4), Rellie Kaputin 6.25m (1.0)
Triple Jump Aliyah Parker 13.19m (0.4), Desleigh Owusu 13.16m (-0.1), Chloe Grenade 13.00m (0.3)
High Jump Nicola McDermott 2.00m (Australian Record, Olympic Qualifier, SOPAC Track Record), Emily Whelan 1.82m, Alysha Burnett 1.78m
Pole Vault Nina Kennedy 4.75m (Olympic Qualifier), Elizaveta Parnova 4.40m, Madeleine Lawson 4.10m, Elyssia Kenshole 4.10m
Shot Put Lyvante Su’emai 15.11m, Emma Berg 14.45m, Alysha Burnett 14.11m
Discus Dani Samuels 62.74m, Taryn Gollshewsky 61.05m (#6 Australian All-Time), Jade Lally (GBR) 60.36m, Lyvante Su’emai 51.61m, Sally Sokry 50.91m
Javelin Kathryn Mitchell 63.34m, Kelsey-Lee Barber 61.09m, Mackenzie Little 60.90m, Tori Peeters (NZL) 58.00m, Kiarna Woolley-Blain 52.96m, Mackenzie Mielczarek 52.58m, Jess Bell 52.05m, Katrina Blackett 52.02m
Hammer Alexandra Hulley 65.11m, Stephanie Radcliffe 61.81m, Odette Palma 54.75m
Heptathlon Taneille Crase 5304p, Rachel Limburg 5285p, Tiana Morrison 5150p
100m (0.4) Rohan Browning 10.09, Edward Osei-Nketia (NZL) 10.31, Jake Penny 10.41 [SF 10.39 w0.4], Will Roberts 10.43, Jack Hale 10.43, Alex Hartmann 10.48, Simon Greig 10.49, Joshua Azzopardo 10.50, Jake Doran 10.53
200m (0.4) Alex Beck 20.88, Dhruv Rodrigues Chico 20.90, Joshua Azzopardi 20.92, Connor Diffey 21.00, Will Johns 21.01, Alex Hartmann 21.10, Michael Romanin 21.14
400m Alex Beck 46.41 [Heat 46.14], Steve Solomon 46.90 [Heat: 46.82], Tyler Gunn 46.95 [Heat 46.73], Ian Halpin 47.11, Cameron Searle 47.17, Jamee Smith 47.19
800m Peter Bol 1:49.27, Jared Micallef 1:49.68, Jack Lunn 1:49.80
1500m Jye Edwards 3:33.99 (Olympic Qualifier, #9 Australian All-Time, SOPAC Track Record), Stewart McSweyn 3:34.55 (Olympic Qualifier), Rorey Hunter 3:37.32, Ryan Gregson 3:37.84, Matthew Ramsden 3:38.57, Callum Davies 3:38.94, James Hansen 3:39.21, Adam Spencer 3:40.86, Isaac Heyne 3:41.75
110m H (0.5) Nicholas Hough 13.60, Nicholas Andres 13.75, Sam Hurwood 14.05, Jacob McCorry 14.11
400m H Christopher Douglas 49.50, Angus Proudfoot 51.36, Mark Fokas 51.53
3000m St James Nipperess 8:30.13 (#13 Australian All-Time), Ben Buckingham 8:30.54, Edward Trippas 8:31.09 (#14 Australian All-Time), Matthew Clarke 8:32.06 (#17 Australian All-Time), Joe Burgess 8:49.43, Aiden Hobbs 8:50.22, Will Austin-Cray 8:54.36
10,000m Walk Rhydian Cowley 39:29.63, Declan Tingay 39:40.24, Kyle Swan 40:06.86
Long Jump Henry Frayne 7.97m (1.3), Zane Branco 7.80m (1.6), Christopher Mitrevski 7.79m (0.2), Jeremy Andrews 7.69m (-0.2), William Freyer 7.66m (-0.2), Joshua Crowley 7.63m (0.6), Jalen Rucker 7.55m (-0.2)
Triple Jump Shemaiah James 16.28m (0.0), Connor Murphy 16.22m (-0.3), Julian Konle 16.11m (0.6), Ayo Ore 15.90m (1.1), Emmanuel Fakiye 15.69m (0.6)
High Jump Brandon Starc 2.20m, Joel Baden 2.15m, =3rd Simioluwa Thomsen-Ajayi 2.15m, =3rd Yual Reath 2.15m, Oscar Miers 2.10m
Pole Vault Jack Downey 5.40m, Angus Armstrong 5.10m, Triston Vincent 4.95m
Shot Put Damien Birkinhead 19.50m, Alexander Kolesnikoff 19.22m, Aiden Harvey 18.30m, Daniel Green 17.48m
Discus Matt Denny 63.88m, Lachlan Page 57.51m, Mitchell Cooper 57.49m, Nicholas Dyson 52.17m
Javelin Liam O’Bren 80.79m, Cruz Hogan 76.17m, Cameron McEntyre 73.69m, Howard McDonald 73.56m, Hamish Peacock 73.39m, Michael Criticos 72.34m, Nash Lowis 71.78m
Hammer Ned Weatherly 67.71m, Costa Kousparis 66.75m, William Brown 66.31m, Jack Dalton 65.98m, Timothy Heyes 64.02m
Decathlon Ash Moloney 8284p (SOPAC Track Record), Cedric Dubler 8175p, Alec Diamond 7746p
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