London is calling for Dane Bird-Smith (Qld) and Regan Lamble (Vic) after they won gold at the Oceania & Australian 20km Race Walking Championships in Adelaide (SA) to ensure their start at the IAAF World Championships.
Stopping the clock in 1:19:37 and 1:29:58 respectively, the fast-paced Rio 2016 Olympians were joined on a long list of athletics highlights this past 24 hours, including national indoor records to both Ryan Gregson (Vic) and Zoe Buckman (Vic) at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix.
Bird-Smith’s victory in the men’s 20km race walk deliver his second consecutive national crown in the event, after he took line honours in 2016 before going on to win bronze on debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. His time is also an equal personal best.
Competing alongside one of the strongest fields to ever assemble in Australia, Bird-Smith was joined on the podium today by Lebogang Shange (RSA, 1:21:00) and Quentin Rew (NZL, 1:21:12).
His attention now turns to bettering the national 10,000m walk record of his father, David, as part of domestic competition before a likely start in Taicang (CHN) in May.
“I came to Adelaide to get a job done, to lock London down. I followed my race plan perfectly and to edge out an international field like that is great,” Bird-Smith, said.
“The equal personal best is because of the hard work I’ve been doing all summer. I’m trying to keep pressing forward and improving and as someone who is still quite young I am starting to reap the benefit of the kilometres I’ve put in.”
“I’ve got two things on my radar this year, the national 10,000m walk record of my Dad and a better result than bronze in London. I like to think that my Dad is shaking in his boots,” Bird-Smith joked.
Line honours for Lamble today delivered her maiden national crown across 20-kilometres, with the 25-year-old edging out Birgita Virbalyte-Dimsie (LTU, 1:30:55) and London 2012 Olympian Beki Smith (ACT, 1:31:23) to reign supreme.
Not to be outdone in Birmingham (GBR) were Gregson and Buckman, with the Melbourne Track Club duo smashing Australian indoor records in the men’s 1500m and women’s 1000m respectively.
Gregson’s time of 3:36.50 for second follows his impressive stint as Team Australia Captain in Melbourne (Vic) and lowers the previous mark by just shy of three seconds, while Buckman crossed the line in 2:39.47 to see history rewritten for the first time since 1988.
Competing in the women’s 3000m, Genevieve LaCaze (Vic) clocked a personal best of 8:45.81, while Sally Pearson (Qld) capped off her indoor campaign with third in the women’s 60m hurdles in a time of 7.96. Pearson will now return home and compete in the women’s 100m and women’s 100m hurdles at the Queensland Athletics Championships next weekend.
Closer to home in Adelaide (SA), it was Kurtis Marschall (SA) who shone, with the 19-year-old soaring over an equal personal best height of 5.70m to win gold at the South Australian Athletics Championships and secure his first qualifying mark for the IAAF World Championships in London (GBR).
Marschall’s impressive early season form follows his start alongside Team Australia at Coles Nitro Athletics Melbourne, with the young gun set to compete at the Western Australian Athletics Championships next weekend before the #SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix in Canberra (ACT) and the Australian Athletics Championships.
“Last year I qualified for the Olympics at an event in Germany, it was the last minute before the Games, and I was absolutely over the moon to get the chance to compete in Rio. I knew I had to jump 5.70m again to go to London this year and I set this aim of trying to get it done in my home town but to be honest I didn’t think I would be in the shape to do it domestically,” Marschall said.
“It’s awesome, especially so early in the year. My Mum made a call to all my family to come along and watch, too, so to have them in stadium as I went over was pretty special.”
At the ACT Athletics Championships in Canberra (ACT), Josh Clarke (NSW) clocked an impressive 10.22 (w: +1.6) in the rounds of the men’s 100m, before Trae Williams (Qld) took line honours in the final in a time of 10.27 (w: +1.7). The women’s race was won by Toea Wisil (PNG) in a time of 11.29 (w: +2.0), with Melissa Breen (ACT, 11.33) hot on her heels for silver.
Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) opened her season in the javelin at the AIS Athletics Track, throwing 59.20m to win, while Michelle Jenneke (NSW) clocked 13.23 (w: +1.3) to edge out Brianna Beahan (WA, 13.29) in the women’s 100m hurdles. Lauren Wells (ACT) ran a career best 52.97 to cross first in the women’s 400m.