Photo: Athletics Australia
Aussie women produce sensational 4x400m relay silver
The Australian women’s 4x400m relay team have run brilliantly to win the silver medal in the penultimate track event of the World U20 championships.
The team of Ella Connolly (QLD), Cara Jardine (QLD), Jemima Russell (VIC) and Carley Thomas (NSW) paced each of their legs superbly and their time of 3:31.36, was over four seconds faster than their heat run, and is the second fastest time by an Australian U20 team at the World U20s.
The team were ecstatic with their performance, as they deserved to be.
“I think we went into that race with so much pride for our country and I knew these girls had it in them to get a medal,” Connolly explained. “We all ran to our potential and you can’t ask for anymore.”
Connolly, who was fourth in the individual 400m final, had a fantastic first leg for Australia in lane six and passed the baton to Cara Jardine (VIC) in second place behind USA.
Jardine went out hard and ran an inspired leg. She was passed by the Jamaican going into the second bend but fought back down the home straight to reclaim second spot.
“It was pretty hard to have everyone come up and you get passed at one stage but it just gave me more adrenaline to push past them at the finish and give a good start to Jemima,” Jardine said.
Russell, who is an 800m specialist, started the third leg in second, with the Americans well clear. The Australian was passed by the flying Jamaican down the back straight but remained composed, while Canada also applied the pressure. Into the home straight Canada passed Russell to give the baton to Carley Thomas (NSW) in fourth place but with the Australians still right in contention.
“These girls did so well to get it to me in the position where we were, and honestly it was just about running as hard as I could and holding on, and giving it in a good spot to Carley,” Russell said.
With 300m metres to run Australia was in fourth, with four teams vying for the bronze, and Jamaica challenging USA for the lead.
Thomas made her move and passed Canada into the final bend to sit third. Then the strength of the 800m individual silver medallist was on display. Australia was clear of Canada into the straight and then passed the Jamaican, who had gone out too hard chasing USA, with 40 metres remaining and claimed a fantastic silver medal.
“I got to 300 and I was having a blast, but dying, but having a blast and I saw the Jamaican in front and I just kept going and going,” Thomas said, with her beaming teammates.
For Thomas this was her second silver of the championships and Australia’s fifth medal of Tampere 2018.
This performance was the second fastest ever time by an Australian U20 team and just outside the 3:30.38 run by Kylie Hanigan, Susan Andrews, Sophie Scamps and Renee Poetschka to win the world title in 1990.
Aussie men seventh in dramatic 4x400m relay final
The Australian men’s team of Adam Kopp (WA), Christian Davis (VIC), Harvey Murrant (VIC) and Ashley Moloney (QLD) contested the final event of the championships, trying to find something left in their tired legs.
They fought hard but were off the pace early and couldn’t peg it back and were seventh in 3:09.31 - down on their heat run of 3:08.53. The Italians took the gold 3:04.05 with the USA not able to recover from a dropped baton.
Kopp led off from lane five for Australia, with the American on his inside going out very fast and creating a big lead into the home straight. As Kopp was preparing to pass to Davis, the Americans dropped the baton, before quickly recovering. Halfway through the second leg, Great Britain were in the lead with USA sixth and Australia seventh.
Davis, who was a 400m semi-finalist, ran a great bend to pass the Americans before having to go wide and make the change-over to Murrant in sixth place.
With 600m to run Italy took the lead with USA moving into third. Murrant, who ran the 400m hurdles here in Finland passed the baton to Moloney in seventh place. The decathlon champion who had a huge competition program was unable to move Australia any higher.
It was a fantastic effort to make the final, and the men gave it everything they had to finish seventh in the world.
“It was such a big race, such a big final and very easy for nerves to take over and underperform, but I’m really proud of the boys and we couldn’t have done any better we are all spent,” Davis said.
It was great learning experience for the men, as Murrant explained.
“We’re used to at home at state relays being out in front so when Davis passed to me in seventh out wide on the track and then all the jostling, it was pretty tough and Ash had to ziz zag a lot of people too.”
Moloney who had to go with the medics after the heat run, started to feel an asthma attack in the last 50m.
“We just left it all out there,” Moloney said.
In the other seven finals decided on the final day of competition
A photo finish was needed to determine the women’s 100m hurdles champion. Tia Jones (USA) and Britany Anderson (JAM) both recorded 13.01 seconds, with the judges awarding the American with gold.
Ethiopian Takele Nigate (8:25.35) won the sprint to the line in the men’s 3000m steeplechase over Kenyan Leonard Bett (8:25.39).
Ethiopia again got the gold over Kenya in the women’s 1500m. Alemaz Samuel (ETH) won in 4:09.67, over Miriam Cherop (KEN) 4:10.73.
Kenya bounced back in the men’s 800m going 1-2. Solomon Letuka (KEN) took gold in 1:46.35 with Ngeno Kipngetich (KEN) taking silver, 1:46.45. There was a fall going into the final lap which ruined the chances of both British runners.
The men’s discus title was taken out by Jamaican Kai Chang in a personal best 62.36 metres.
Belarus won their first gold of the championships with a 1.92m clearance in the women’s high jump by Karyna Taranda.
Aleksandra Nacheva from Bulgaria won the women’s triple jump comfortably with 14.18 metres.
Australia finished 7th on the Tampere 2018 medal table with 2 gold and 3 silver.
Kenya with 11 medals finished on top.
It was an outstanding performance by the Australians who finished ahead of athletics powerhouses Japan, Germany, France and China.
In terms of number of gold medals it was Australia’s equal best performance with four past teams. On only two occasions has Australia won more total medals at the World U20s.
On the Championships placing table, which shows the depth of a nation’s results by awarding 8 points for 1st place and 1 point for 8th, Australia finished on 8th on 71 points. In terms of points it was the best performance by an Australian World U20s Team since 1996, when Australia hosted the event in Sydney.
The United States topped the placing table with 155 points, ahead of Kenya on 112.
In total, Australia had 15 top 8 performances of which 10 were in the top 5.
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia
Superlatives and Statistics David Tarbotton
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The Championships were held from Tuesday 10 July 4pm AEST to Sunday 15 July 11pm AEST.
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