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Starc leads superb Aussie results across Europe

Tuesday, 4 September 2018 | Rob Cumbrae-Stewart



Australian athletes were in the thick of the action in Europe last week with plenty to celebrate at the Diamond League Finals in Zurich and Brussels, the World Challenge in Berlin and the meet in Padova, Italy.

High jumper Brandon Starc (2.33m) winning the Diamond League Trophy and $50,000 USD ($69,742) in Brussels was the stand-out performance. In any other year that would have been equivalent to an Olympic or World Championship gold medal.

In Zurich, Henry Frayne was third (8.16m) in the Diamond League long jump final with the $10,000 USD bonus a reward for his fantastic consistency.

Other highlights included personal best performances and moves up the Australian all-time list to Stewart McSweyn in the 5,000m, Kurtis Marschall pole vaulting in the Zurich train station, Jordan Williamsz over 1500m in Padova. In Berlin, Brooke Stratton and Kelsey Barber claimed gold and Gen LaCaze ran a season best over the steeples. Read full details on Aussies at the four meets below:

Marschall delivers PB at Zurich curtain raiser

In Zurich on Wednesday night (local time) the main train station, the busiest public transport hub in Switzerland, was converted for a pole vault competition as a curtain-raiser to the Diamond League Finals at the track the next night. Six men, including Australia’s Kurtis Marschall, cleared 5.81m – a competitive feat which has only occurred four times in men’s vaulting history.

Marschall thrived in the atmosphere, clearing a personal best of 5.81m following two attempts, his second attempt proved successful again at 5.86m, good for third overall. He is now the no.5 Australian in history and he is still only 21. Unfortunately for Marschall he fell awkwardly two nights later in Brussels at the Diamond League Final, but reports are positive for his return at the Continental Cup this coming weekend.  Read Kurtis Marschall feature here>>>

Frayne third in Diamond League Final

The following night over 30,000 people packed into the Zurich Stadium for the first night of Diamond League Finals, to determine the top athlete in 16 events for the season. Australians Henry Frayne and Ryan Gregson were competing for glory and big cash incentives.

Frayne third and earns $10,000 USD

On a cold night for jumping and almost five months after they met at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Frayne was again battling with South African duo Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai.

World champion Manyonga (8.36m) came out on top again, with Samaai (8.32m) almost causing an upset and leaping over Frayne, with the Australian Commonwealth Games silver medallist holding on for third (8.16m). His fourth-round attempt of 8.16m extended his 8m+ jump streak to 10 competitions, beginning with the qualifying round at the Commonwealth Games where he jumped his 8.34m personal best.

The 28-year-old Queenslander had done enough for third and to earn $10,000 USD for his efforts. Frayne will round out his season, like the rest of the Australians, at the Continental Cup in the Czech Republic (8/9 September) where he is looking to snag a win.

Gregson 10th in 1500m

Gregson, Australia’s other Diamond League finalist in Zurich, was a late call up to the race after a few other athletes had called their season early. The pace was on early with the lead pack going through 800m in 1:52.27. A second pack including Gregson was a little off the pace.

Unfortunately, this second pack couldn’t close the gap, and this left Gregson with work to do, a good 10m off the back of the main pack with a lap to go. The task was too much and Gregson finished tenth in 3:39.04.

In the non-Diamond League mixed 3000m wheelchair event, Eliza Ault-Connell finished seventh in 6:10.42, in a fast-paced pursuit around the track.

Full Zurich wrap here >>>

Starc soars and McSweyn fast in Brussels Diamond League Final

Brandon Starc came into the Diamond League Final in career best form following his 2.36m personal best in Germany five days earlier. He again showed he can rise to the occasion under pressure and became only the fourth Australian to win a Diamond League title.

The 24-year-old, cleared 2.33m on his second attempt which was enough to score him the Diamond League Trophy and the huge cash bonus of $50,000 USD ($69,492 AUD).

“I jumped 2.36 a few days ago, so I semi expected the win,” an elated Starc said. “But it was really tough out there and I fought hard and I'm so happy to come out on top and come away with it.”

The Commonwealth Games Champion will finish off his best-ever international season by competing in the Asia/Pacific Team at the Continental Cup in Ostrava next weekend (September 8,9).

“I’m going to keep on this form and capitalise on that and hopefully come out with another victory.”

Read a recent feature on Starc and his equal Australian record here>>>

McSweyn now 2nd fastest Aussie over 5000m

With a stumble over the line and a 10th place finish, the 2018 juggernaut of middle-distance sensation Stewart McSweyn continued. The Tasmanian obliterated his old personal best by 14 seconds with his 13:05.23. He moves past the likes of Ben St Lawrence and Collis Birmingham to sit second behind Craig Mottram (12:55.76).

Coming into this 5000m, the world lead was 13:01. No one had broken 13min, a feat not seen since 1993 (none of the current top 10 before in the Diamond League Final were even born then). Low and behold, it was something special.

Ethiopian Samuel Barega finished in 12:43.02, with the 18-year-old setting a new world junior record and be number four on the all-time list. No other 5000m race has ever produced more than one time under 12:47, and yet the 2018 finale had three. The first eight athletes dipping under the magic 13-minute barrier.

“As I came to the line I tripped up and landed on my shoulder, so my shoulder was popped out, and I had to go to the medical room and get it put back, which was pretty painful, but I’ve got through it at least now, so it’s feeling a bit better.”

Read an earlier feature on the King of King Island here>>> 

Stratton fifth in long jump final

Book ending her competition with 6.55 metres, and a best leap of 6.57m in the fifth-round saw Brooke Stratton finish fifth overall in the Diamond League final.

Stratton was hoping to jump further than her season best of 6.88m. The Diamond League Trophy was won with a leap of 6.80m from Columbian Caterine Ibarguen.

“I didn’t quite have it in my legs tonight, I just felt a little bit flat out there, but I gave it my best and that’s all I could do,” Stratton said.

Marschall sustains injury with first attempt mishap

Kurtis Marschall, still riding the high from his six-centimetre personal best in Zurich Main Station two days earlier was struck down by an unfortunate mishap on his very first attempt in Brussels.

Fully committing to the jump, he was unaware of his sideways trajectory, and, as he pulled out of the attempt, he found himself above the ground, but not over the safety of the mats.

He fell to the ground, taking the force from that height on his feet. He was taken from the field in a wheelchair and his heels iced and strapped straight away. He is hopeful of being right for the Continental Cup final in Ostrava.

Three other Australians featured in non-Diamond League events.

Nicola McDermott was second in the high jump event with a clearance of 1.87m.

Steven Solomon faded to fourth in in the men’s 400m (46.62s). And Brittany McGowan was never quite on the pace in the women’s 800m, to finish seventh (2:07.42). The run was not indicative of her recent form, where she broke the Australian 1000m record a few weeks ago in Birmingham.

Full wrap of the Brussels Diamond League Finals here>>> 

Golden Aussies in Berlin

At the Berlin Olympic Stadium four Australians competed against very strong fields at the ISTAF World Challenge.

Brooke Stratton backed up from her fifth (6.57m) in Brussels and improved with 6.71m to take the win in Berlin by six centimetres. She performed a lot better than the other competitors that backed up from the Diamond League Final and will be looking for another win at the Continental Cup.

Kelsey Barber just missed a place in the Diamond League Finals but made the most of her opportunity in Berlin. She took the title with 62.70 metres, her second-best distance from her international season. The Commonwealth Games silver medallist will be chasing another podium at the Continental Cup.

Genevieve LaCaze has been in great form over 3000m in July and August and ran her first 3000m steeplechase since the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Berlin. In a large field she finished a fantastic third with a season best 9:23.69, and her fourth fastest time ever. Her run was less than 10 seconds off her best from 2016 and sets her up nicely for the Continental Cup 3000m.

Ryan Gregson also backed up from the Diamond League Finals in Zurich where he was 10th and showed good form with his 1500m fifth place in 3:34.89. It was Gregson’s second-best time of the season. The race was won by Diamond League champion Timonthy Cheruiyot (KEN) in 3:32.37.  

Williamsz runs 1500m PB in Padova

Jordan Williamsz was second in the 1500m in the northern Italy city of Padova. His time of 3:36.30 was a personal best and moves him from 21st to 17th in the AUS all-time list. The 26-year-old started the year with sixth at the Commonwealth Games and also ran a personal best over 3000m in July.  

Linden Hall continued her fantastic season, which saw her set new Australian records over 1500m (4:00.86) in May and the Mile (4:21.40) in July. In Padova, she finished second in the Mile in 4:26.62. Ethiopian Dibaba was on a mission to break the world record and the fast early pace meant Hall was running solo for most of the race. In the windy conditions Dibaba ended up settling for a season best 4:20.51.  

Steve Solomon backed up from his fourth (46.62) in the Brussels non-Diamond League final to be fifth in Padova in 46.59s. These two races have been his only meets in Europe this year as he prepares for the Continental Cup where he’ll run the 4x400m mixed relay.

See full Continental Cup Team and details here >>>

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