Teenage sprint sensation Jack Hale (Tas.) has made a sensational Australian Athletics Tour debut in Hobart this evening at the Briggs Athletics Classic, easily winning the men’s 100m in a time of 10.50 (wind +0.1) but it was the throwers that provided most of the meet highlights with numerous personal bests and a new Australian Under 20 record.
Hale, who made national headlines with a series of scintillating runs last year including a new Under 18 national record of 10.42 and a wind-assisted 10.13 to win the Australian All-Schools title, was making his debut against senior competition on Athletics Australia’s national tour of meets. He showed no nerves however and easily won by four metres from his closest rival, Jacob Despard of Tasmania (10.90) at the Domain Athletics Centre.
Hale said he was happy with his time and looking forward to his next outing on the Australian Athletics Tour in Newcastle next week at the Hunter Track Classic.
“10.50 for me is amazing at this time of the year, going into juniors in the next few months,” said Hale. “I’m really happy with it and really keen to get into Newcastle next week.”
In the men’s javelin, hometown hero and Glasgow Commonwealth Games bronze medallistHamish Peacock (Tas.) hurled the spear to 80.77m to take the win. Facing off against New Zealand dual Olympian Stuart Farquhar, Peacock opened with a throw of 78.56m and was never headed. He improved to 78.71m in round two before registering a pair of fouls. Peacock then landed his winning throw of 80.77m to the delight of his hometown crowd. He closed his series with a third foul but still took out the competition comfortably ahead of Farquhar’s best effort of 77.22m.
“It was pretty tricky conditions out there, a breeze was blowing across the ground and it was a bit cool but to get an 80m, it was a pretty good performance for the conditions,” Peacock said.
“I always enjoy competing against some of the top guys. The New Zealand number one (Farquhar) was competing and it was great to have him over here.”
“I’m feeling pretty good at the moment, for me it is about putting the run-up speed onto the throw and adding those two together and that’s what I’m working on. Tonight it was an 80m throw so it was not too bad but I’m hoping to pump out an 85m throw in the next month or two.”
Peacock said he was hoping his good form would help him to capture his first-ever senior national title at the Australian Athletics Championships in March.
“I certainly hope to, I’ve won the silver medal at nationals three times so a national title is definitely the big aim this domestic season,” Peacock said.
The Tasmanian’s brother, Huw Peacock (Tas.), also competed in the men’s hammer throw earlier in the evening but was unable to replicate his sibling’s result, coming second to exciting junior Matthew Denny (Qld.).
Peacock threw 65.35m with his second throw to lead for most of the competition before 18-year-old Denny registered a new personal best of 67.62m with his final attempt to snare the win at the death knell. The throw improved Denny’s previous lifetime best, which was set in Hobart last February, by 39cm.
In the men’s shot put, Damien Birkinhead (Vic.) was in impressive early season form, taking the win with a throw of 19.84m which also improved his personal best by 15cm. Birkinhead had the competition won already courtesy of his first round effort of 19.38m when he stepped into the circle for his final throw. He then unleashed his new lifetime best to put an exclamation mark on the win. Para-athlete Todd Hodgetts (Tas.) took out second in the men’s shot put behind Birkinhead with his fourth round throw of 15.53m. That easily bettered the men’s ‘A’ selection standard for the 2015 IPC World Championships.
17-year-old Alexandra Hulley (NSW) set a new national Under 20 record in the women’s hammer throw after her fourth round effort of 63.65m. The throw surpassed the old record of 62.02m set by current Australian open record holder Bronwyn Eagles in 1999. Hulley relegated reigning two-time Australian women’s open hammer throw champion Lara Nielsen (Qld.) to second place in Hobart. Nielsen threw 61.66m with her final effort of the competition.
The throwers didn’t completely dominate the night however with Lauren Wells (ACT) impressive in winning the women’s 400m hurdles. Wells, the seven-time national champion in the event, was a full flight clear of her nearest rival when she crossed the line in a time of 56.74m.
“I was undecided what sort of stride pattern I was going to run just because the conditions were a little tricky here tonight, quite windy, but I spoke to my coach Matt Beckenham on the phone, he’s back in Canberra, and tried to work out what would work the best tonight,” said Wells. “I executed probably better than I thought I would I would, which is always a relief. The time was good, not too far off the qualifier for Worlds, which is what I’m most excited about.”
Wells went on to pace the women’s 1500m race later in the night, leading the field through the first 600m before stepping off the track to allow Madeline Heiner (NSW) to stride to the front and take the win in the time of 4:15.94.
The action on the track in Hobart closed with the men’s 5000m featuring a strong field that included newly crowned Australian 10,000m champion Brett Robinson (Vic.), London 2012 Olympian David McNeill (Vic) and national 10,000m record holder Ben St Lawrence (NSW).
It was Robinson who took up the running five laps from home to surge to the win, registering a time of 13:43.13, ahead of McNeill (13:45.56) and St Lawrence (13:52.51) in second and third respectively.
“I finished off 2014 in such good form and I’m glad I can continue into 2015 with a winning start and head in the right direction.
“I’ve been training with Benny (St Lawrence) and Dave McNeill up at Falls Creek the last few weeks so I knew they were both going pretty well. I’d always planned to go with five laps to go it just helped that we had Mitch Brown and Brenton Rowe pushing the pace early so when I did get to go at five laps, the pace was already pretty honest so everybody was already starting to feel the pressure a little bit.
“Today didn’t matter about the time, especially with these conditions. All it was about was trying to get the win and having a really good hit out so next time I race – I’m going to race in New Zealand at the end of February – when I run there, it will be about the time, so today was just practice really.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s long jump, Brooke Stratton (Vic.) showed that the injury worries which forced her withdrawal from the 2014 Commonwealth Games are behind her, winning the competition with a leap of 6.42m (wind 0.0).
The Australian Athletics Tour continues next Saturday (31 January) with the Hunter Track Classic at Hunter Sports Centre in Newcastle.
For full results from the Briggs Athletics Classic click here.
To watch video of the live stream from the meet click here.