Article by Len Johnson for World Athletics and Photographs Casey Sims
Olympic fourth-place finisher Peter Bol closed the Brisbane Track Classic with a convincing win over a classy field in the men’s 800m, the brightest race on an uncharacteristically gloomy afternoon on Saturday (9).
Persistent rain and swirling winds made life difficult for competitors across all events at the World Athletics Continental Tour Silver meeting as the La Nina weather event which has brought heavy rains and floods along Australia’s east coast for the past two months made its presence felt. The capricious nature of the conditions was demonstrated when a heat of the 100m went to the line with the wind blowing down the straight – the sprints having been turned around for exactly that reason – but by the time the gun was fired ran into a -1.4m/s headwind.
But good racing is good racing regardless of the conditions, as Bol pointed out after winning the 800m in 1:46.12 ahead of New Zealand duo James Preston and Brad Mathas, Bol’s Australian Olympic teammate Charlie Hunter and Britain’s 1:44 man Guy Learmonth.
As in most of his domestic races the past two years – and so very nearly in the Olympic final – Bol won from the front, daring his rivals to chase him down. As the field entered the final straight with Preston, Mathas, Hunter and Learmonth looming, it looked like one of them might do just that, but Bol held his two-metre lead all the way to the line.
“Obviously the conditions were not too good,” said Bol, “but the racing was.” Bol’s next races will be in the Wanda Diamond League meetings in Doha and Birmingham.
The race was also the farewell appearance for four-time Olympic representative Jeff Riseley who finished seventh.
Little again bests Barber in the javelin
Mackenzie Little again came out ahead of Kelsey-Lee Barber in the women’s javelin, the Olympic eighth-place finisher producing a personal best of 62.79m on her final throw.
“I’m really excited about this (result),” said Little, whose previous best of 62.37m was set in the qualifying round at the Tokyo Olympics.
Australia had three women in the Olympic final, with Kathryn Mitchell finishing fifth. Little agreed it was a good time to be competing. “I want to be at all the major finals,” said the 2013 world U18 champion.
A week after taking the Australian title, Jake Doran was again victorious in the men’s 100m, this time over a field which included Japan’s sub-10-second man Yoshihide Kiryu. Powering down the straight from the conventional finish to the conventional start – yet still having to contend with a -1.5m/s headwind – Doran’s 10.28 edged out Eddie Nketia (10.30), with Jacob Despard and Kiryu next, both timed at 10.41.
Kiryu must have thought the weather gods were paying him particular attention. He was the only one of the field to have chosen to run the heats earlier. For that, his reward was a drenching, a headwind and a 10.55. The rain had eased off a little for the final an hour later, but it was still run into a headwind and he finished fourth.
Two athletes whose main goal is the World U20 Championships in Cali rather than the senior World Championships in Oregon also took the eye. 17-year-old Torrie Lewis completed a double in the women’s sprints, taking the 100m in 11.37 (0.2m/s) and coming back to win the 200m, run in some of the worst of the conditions, in 23.18, equalling her PB despite the -1.6m/s headwind.
Lewis, who last month clocked a 100m PB of 11.35, now sits second on the Oceanian U18 all-time lists for the 100m and 200m, behind legendary Australian sprinter Raelene Boyle.
Claudia Hollingsworth is still a few days short of her 17th birthday but she ran the 1500m in a manner which belied her youth. Sitting right behind a pacemaker through 800m, Hollingsworth led all the way into the final straight before being challenged by Olympic representative Georgia Griffith. Griffith got by and eventually won, but Hollingsworth gave her a heck of a race over the final 50 metres, 4:10.33 to 4:10.61.
Aidan Murphy, who won the senior 200m title having set a national U20 record earlier in the season, claimed a significant scalp when he defeated Japan’s Shota Iizuka in the 200m. Iizuka shot out of the blocks but ran out of gas in the straight, fading to sixth as Murphy went to the line in 20.89 ahead of Doran and another Cali-bound athlete in Calab Law.
World indoor 60m hurdles fifth-place finisher Chris Douglas has his eye on the sprint hurdles this year as well as the 400m hurdles. Third at the Australian Championships, he came out on top in Brisbane in a personal best of 13.65 from Nicholas Hough and Japan’s Shuhei Ishikawa. Olympic semi-finalist Liz Clay won the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.02.