Stewart McSweyn capped a hugely successful 2019 with a win at the annual Zatopek 10,000m in Melbourne on Saturday night (14), completing a hat-trick of victories in the classic race. The result also doubled as an Olympic qualifier and automatic nomination to the Olympic team as national champion.
The Zatopek races served as the Australian Championships over the longest track distance with both champions awarded medals commemorating Ron Clarke, who won the race five times, setting world records for six miles and 10,000m in 1963.
Genevieve Gregson (nee Lacaze) took the women’s race, the world steeplechase finalist making a winning debut at the 25-lap distance. The women’s race started much more cautiously than the men’s, possibly because Australia’s two World Championships representatives, Ellie Pashley and Sinead Diver, were not in the field, both having run last month’s New York Marathon. Gregson, making her debut at 10,000m, was understandably feeling her way into the race.
In the final 100m, it was down to two, Gregson finally got the upper hand decisively in the last 50 metres. The Olympic finalist at both the steeplechase and 5000m made her 10,000m debut a winning one, crossing the line a few steps clear of Seccafien, 32:47.83 to 32:48.30.
Among the significant statistics relating to his winning performance of 27:23.80, it was:
- a personal best by almost 30 seconds (previously 27:50.89 in winning last year’s race);
- the second-fastest winning time in the Zatopek race’s 59-year history, behind only Luke Kipkosgei’s men’s race record 27:22.54;
- an Oceanian record (previously held by Ben St Lawrence at 27:24.95);
- an Olympic qualifier and automatic nomination to the Olympic team as national champion;
- the first time for 23 years an Australian men’s record at 10,000m has been set on home soil (previously 27:31.92 by Shaun Creighton at the 1996 Zatopek);
- a third win in succession for McSweyn, putting him behind only Clarke (five), and Kipkosgei, Steve Moneghetti and Andrew Lloyd (four each).
Statistics Credit to Len Johnson for World Athletics