The popular glance back at historical performances tends to highlight the most illustrious of feats, harking back to the regularly aired Olympic highlights of sorts.
With the diversity of performances amongst the Victorian record books, we’ve instead set out to shine a light on state records where competition footage is available. In many cases this is considerably more difficult a research task, given the age and venue of some of our state’s best performances.
Selecting a spread of both track and field events, here are four performances you might be less familiar with, that double as Victorian records.
Cathy Freeman – 200m – 22.25sec (1994)
In the midst of what was considered a breakthrough season, Freeman won the 400m at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in 50.38. A meet record, Freeman pulls off a tremendous comeback in the final straight, defeating Mary Onyali, the 1994 Commonwealth Games 100m champion. A world class season, Freeman went on to improve her 400m personal best to 50.04 in Paris shortly after the Games.
Craig Mottram – 3000m – 7:32.19 (2006)
An elusive sliver of footage in Australia athletic history, long held under obscure TV rights, one of the most enthralling 3000m races made its way to global media platforms in 2017, close to 11 years after it took place. Representing Oceania in the World Cup format, Mottram was in a purple patch, having taken World Championship bronze in 2005, Commonwealth Games silver in 2006, breaking 13 minutes for the distance from 2004-2006 – lining up against Kenenisa Bekele, the 5000m and 10,000m world record holder.
Separating from the pack early, the race quickly descended into a one on one encounter, Bekele asserted himself in the opening four laps, doing his best to shake Mottram. Coming up on 1900m, Mottram notices Bekele slow briefly, and takes the invitation to roll onto his adversary’s shoulder – offering up an infamous head check, prior to taking off on an exhilarating final kilometre.
In researching these performances, I grew to empathise further with many a field event fan. Finding footage of performances is similar to searching for needles in haystacks, thus the next two performances offer the best of both worlds. One performance set with modern media watching around the nation, the other an obscure yet important piece of footage recorded by an AV regular.
Kathryn Mitchell – Javelin – 68.92m (2018)
A state record, a national record – set on home soil in front of a raucous crowd. Kathryn Mitchell’s opening throw at the 2018 Commonwealth Games encapsulated everything Aussie’s love about the sport. An athlete refreshingly open about the physical and psychological difficulties that the very best in the world encounter, Mitchell’s gold medal throw elevated her to seventh on the global all-time list.
Steve Hooker – Pole Vault – 6.00m (2008)
As noted in Steve Hooker’s chat with Down The Track Podcast’s “3to1” series, his only outdoor six-metre clearance took place in Perth in early 2008. Filmed by Commonwealth Games vaulter, Box Hill stalwart Joel Pocklington, the grainy soundless footage depicts a young Hooker soaring over the historic mark, joining a list of 21 men to clear the height outdoors. Hooker’s personal best of 6.06m, cleared indoors in Boston in 2009 is available here, with crowd footage showing the jump at 4:32 – followed by 3 attempts at the world record.