Gregson cruises to victory in Olympic Trial

05 Mar 2012


5 March 2012

Gregson cruises to victory in Olympic Trial 

Despite less than ideal weather conditions at the Olympic Trials in Melbourne, six NSW athletes won events, while five NSW teenagers recorded World Junior Championship qualifiers.

On Day 1 there were very strong head winds while on Day 2 there was rain for most of the evening.

In just his second run this domestic season, reduced due to a calf strain in Hobart, Ryan Gregson (Kembla Joggers) had little trouble taking out the 1500m beating a quality field including Olympic medallist Nick Willis (NZL) and Olympic and World champion Asbel Kiprop (KEN). Gregson was fourth at the bell, winning in 3:38.51, ahead of Dave Torrence (USA) 3:39.32, Nick Willis 3:39.77 and arch rival Jeff Riseley (Vic) 3:40.50.

Despite his injury-challenging 2011, Gregson was in a good frame of mind.

“When my mother dropped me off at the airport she asked me if I felt confident and I said ‘I will be if I’m still there after 800m.’

Gregson’s personal best is a super 3:31.06 and he was philosophical about his time on the weekend..

“I might never do another pb in my life,’’ he said. “ I ran 3:31 at 20. I may never run faster. Nick Willis has an Olympic silver medal but I’m faster than him. For me the next 10 years is just about putting it together on the day and winning a medal.”

John Steffensen continued his unbeaten domestic season winning the Olympic trial in 45.74, ahead of WA’s Ben Offereins.

“Another box ticked,” he said.

“I just wanted to get through this week. I was really worried about my body. If I ran fast now, It would leave me no room for improvement. I have a best of 44.7 and I believe in your lifetime you only have one or two personal best in you.”

In the heats Steven Solomon (Randwick Botany), in only his third run since his hamstring injury, coasted to victory with a strong last 100m running 46.29. In the final he placed third in 46.37.

“I pulled up well yesterday and felt I ran all right today,” he said.

“It has been a lot of pressure, especially coming back from injury.

“All credit to Johnny he ran a great race, Benny too. We’re going to have a really good relay team in London. I’ll go back into some base training now.

Steffensen and Solomon were joined in the final by three other New South Welshmen, Matt Lynch (Mingara) fifth and Kevin Moore (Mingara) sixth.

Youcef Abdi (Bankstown), Australia’s best distance runner at the Beijing Olympics, became NSW’s only automatic qualifier for the Olympics, locking up his London place with a narrow win in the 3000m steeplechase. For most of the race it was Abdi and James Nipperess (Sydney Uni) running together. After Abdi, who already had an A qualifier under his belt, pulled away from Nipperess former national champion Peter Nowill (Qld) gradually began hauling him in and nearly nabbed him on the line 8:35.29 to 8:35.76. Nipperess, who was clean hurdling many of the barriers, pushed on for third in 8:41.94.

In her best ever senior result, former junior star Elly Graf (Sutherland) was sixth in the women’s 100m final in 12.41, run into a strong headwind.

In the men’s 100m heats Anthony Alozie (Sutherland) looked the most impressive clocking 10.58, as he beat training partner Isaac Ntiamoah (Bankstown), while in heat two Jake Hammond (Illawong) was a good second. NSW secured five of the eight Australian finals berths. But in the final it was all Ntiamoah who streeted the field to win in 10.35, with Masashi Eriguchi (Japan) second (10.46) and Alzoie third in 10.47.

“It was a good race. I’m happy with the way things turned out,” said Ntiamoah who first represented Australia at the 2003 World Championships.

Patrick Fakiye (Sutherland) was sixth 10.56, Jake Hammond (Illawong) eighth 10.59 and Nick Hough (Hills) ninth 10.62.

Unfortunately there was no wind reading provided, but there was little doubt it would have been under the legal limit of 2m per second. In the next race, where a world record was set in the ambulant 100m, the wind reading was 0.7m/s.

Eighty minutes later, the sprinters were back on the track for the 200m. Unfortunately the timing equipment failed. Despite calls to ‘stop the race’ if proceeded. The photo finish accurately recorded the placings but times were missed. Queensland’s Andrew McCabe was given the win in an unofficial hand time of 20.2 (win 0.7m/s) with Isaac Ntimaoah second in 20.3. Other NSW athletes in the race were Tim Leathart (Sydney Pacific fifth, 20.6), Nick Hough (sixth, 20.6) and Ben Jaworski (seventh, 20.7).

Long jumper Fabrice Lapierre (Westfields) nabbed his second 8m leap of the summer, with his fourth round effort of 8.00m. He was beaten by Australia’s rising horizontal jumps star Henry Frayne who leapt 8.09m.

In the women’s discus Dani Samuels (Westfields) threw a season’s best 61.30m.

After a number of near missed Emanuele Fuamatu (Bankstown) finally broke the NSW open record putting 19.46m in Round 4. This added just four centimeters to Clay Cross’ record set in 2004. Fuamatu, who hopes to represent Samoa at the Olympics, now holds every NSW records from under-16 to open.

With a 10,000m Olympic qualifier under his belt Ben St Lawrence (St George) looked capable of adding a 5000m standard, but he did not have his best night finishing ninth in 13:48.79. He wrote on Facebook: “Not a great result tonight, that's sport though. I'll bounce back and keep working towards the 10k in London. Congrats to Craig on a great win in an A qualifier and to Collis for making it an honest race.”

St Lawrence’s training partner Harry Summers (Randwick Botany) was eighth in 13:42.78, a good back-up to his recent Hobart form when he clocked 13:34.58.

It was a big weekend for Hayley Butler (Westfields) who competed in four races. She was disappointed after the 100m where she placed seventh in the final, but on Day 2 she competed in only her second hurdles of the season, placing third in 13.47. In the 200 metres she was equal second in an excellent 23.93.

“I’m so tired after four races,” she said.

“I didn’t want to run that 200, but my coach Penny Gillies wanted me too.”

In addition to the 4x100m relay, her London selection prospects remain in the 100m hurdles.

“I’ve only had three hurdles training sessions but I really want to qualify for the Games,” she said.

“I might go to Perth and Canberra, trying to get good conditions somewhere.”

World 800m record holder, David Rudisha (Kenya) had little trouble claiming his pet event, ahead of Victorian Jeff Riseley and NSW pair Lachlan Renshaw (Sydney Uni) and James Gurr (UTS Norths).

“I felt good, the pace was on, but I just faded in that last 40m,” said Renshaw who clocked 1:46.06. He will now need to chase the Olympic standard of 1:45.60 overseas.

“I’ve got a month of altitude training, then I’ll come down and have five races in a row in America, so I’m pretty confident I’ll get it done.”

There was a close battle in the men’s high jump between NSW’s Brandon Starc (Parramatta) and Liam Zamel-Paez. Both jumped 2.10m at their first attempts, but on Starc’s third attempt at 2.15m the crossbar was dislodged. Fortunately the judges ruled the wind was the cause that Starc had cleared the height. Zamel-Paez cleared 2.18m on his second attempt while Starc bowed out of the competition.

There was great excitement in the triple jump as Josie Nichol (Trinity PLC) edged close to the World Junior standard. Victorian Linda Allen won the event while Nichol threatened the World Junior standard of 12.90m on her third and fourth rounds with 12.82m and 12.79m jumps. Coached by former Olympic triple jumper Andrew Murphy, Nichol is looking to join Victorian Brooke Stratton as a World Junior qualifyer. Natalie Apikotoa (Blacktown) had run up problems and only nailed one valid jump of 11.76m.

Two NSW juniors clocked World Junior qualifiers in the 400m hurdles. Sarah Carli (Kembla Joggers) placed fourth in yet another qualier in 59.34, but in fifth, Sara Klein (Asics Wests) nailed her first qualifier running 59.83. She has run a series of times just outside the standard of 60 seconds. Since November she has run 60.97, 60.67, 60.52, 6.04, 60.05 and 60.59. She also beat two strong contenders Kate Ryan (Victoria) and Chloe Jamieson (AIS).

In the women’s 1500m Bridey Delaney (St George) continued her solid season with third in 4:15.74, while in sixth was another World Junior qualifier Jenny Blundell (Cherrybrook) with 4:18.38.

For the fourth consecutive week Talissa Scott (IBS) cleared a long jump World Junior qualifier, placing fourth with 6.17m.

World Junior Championship triple jump hopeful Ben Cox (Ryde) bounded out to 15.13m in Round 3 just short of his recent personal best of 15.25m. It was yet another 15m jump, a barrier only eight NSW athletes have achieved.

"It was testing conditions, so to pull out a legal 15.13 shows some good signs,” said Cox.

“It was good to gain experience by jumping with the older guys, and to watch Henry Frayne jump the Olympic qualifier just made it all that sweeter."

In the very windy conditions on the first night of the meet, Lara Tamsett (Sydney Uni) placed second in the 5000m in 16:04.40 while teenager Celia Sullohern (Macquarie Hunter) just missed third place clocking 16:45.70, nine seconds outside her personal best, but probably her best ever performance considering the conditions.

Kate Clarke (Athletics Wollongong), won the javelin by more than 10m with a throw of 50.18m.

Taylah Sengul (Hills) continued to threaten the World Junior qualifying mark in the shot, with her third round putt of 14.27m, just 23 cm short of the standard.

Angelique Booth (Sydney Pacific) and Tim Foster (Cherrybrook) both claimed strong wins in the AWD 200m and long jump respectively. Stephanie Schweitzer (Hills) was second to Booth and also second in the long jump. Mitchell Pink (Nowra) was second in the men’s long jump with a leap of 5.31m. On the second night, Schweitzer won the 100m in an excellent 13.27.

A protest by Mitchell Tysoe (Mingara) after the men’s 110m hurdles was successful requiring a re-run on Day 2 of the trials. Tysoe had been disqualified for breaking at the start, but was re-instated for the rerun where he was third across the line in 14.42.

Other results

-Sianne Toemoe (UNSW) 7th 800m 2:07.53

-Kurt Jenner (Westfields) 7th long jump 7.14m

-Pirrenee Steinert (Macquaire Hunter) 5th 400m 53.98, Sheena Steinert (Macquarie Hunter) 7th 54. 39, Jamie-Lee Starr (IBS) 8th 55.09

-Emily Crutcher (Asics Wests) 7th high jump 1.70m

-Anna Laman (Parramatta) 11th 1500m 4:28.95

-100m hurdles Michelle Jenneke (Cherrybrook) 5th 14.05, Abbie Taddeo (IBS) 6th 14.26.

-800m B race, Dave Bradney (Macquaire Hunter) 6th 1:51.14

-Greg Eyears (Bankstown) 4th 14.55

-shot Stuart Gyngell (Aths Wollongong) 4th 15.91m


David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW

Image:  Isaac Ntimoah winner of the 100m (courtesy of David Tarbotton)