Australian athletes had performed well on the second and final day of the 2018 Continental Cup in Ostrava representing the Asia-Pacific team. The revised format in some events, providing plenty of additional excitement to conclude the long season.
Brooke Stratton (VIC) started her international season back in April with silver at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and finished in the Czech Republic with another sensational second in the Continental Cup. The Victorian had a best jump of 6.71 metres, with arguably one of the best athletes of the year, Columbian Caterine Ibarguen, ahead of her. Ibarguen who won the Diamond League crowns and the triple jump yesterday lept a personal best of 6.93m.
“It was a bit of a different long jump competition that we are used to,’ Stratton said.
“You couldn’t exactly go for it in any of the jumps, as you had to get that safe one out. I would have loved to have jumped a bit further but it was all I had on the day.”
On the track, Stewart McSweyn looked like he might cause a huge upset in the 3000m to conclude his career best season. The Tasmanian was prominent in an extremely tactical race with the Continental Cup format meaning the last runner is eliminated after each lap from the 1400m mark, until four athletes remain for the final lap.
McSweyn, running with a bandage on his right shoulder, a result of his post finish-line fall after his 13:05 minutes 5000m breakthrough at the Diamond League final, ran brilliantly to avoid elimination. He maintained a position at the head of the field and missed some jostling and energy-sapping sprinting to avoid elimination. But he couldn’t go with the final lap sprint and finished fourth behind classy Kenyan-born American Paul Chelimo.
McSweyn’s training partner Ryan Gregson (VIC) was as equally impressive in the 1500m. The Australian record holder sat patiently at the back of the stacked eight-man field with the moderate pace meaning the pack was bunched. On the last lap he started to position himself to pounce and produced a withering final 150 metres to move into fifth and not far behind Kenyan winner Elijah Manangoi. The former world champion won in 3:40.00 with Gregson clocking 3:40.91.
The day kicked off for the Australian athletes with Gold Coast Commonwealth Games high jump bronze medallist Nicola McDermott (NSW). The 21-year-old cleared 1.87 metres but bowed out at 1.91m, finishing 5th overall.
“I thought I was over on the second and third attempts at 1.91 but overall I’m very happy with my performance today after such a long season,” McDermott said.
“My progression from last year to this year is brilliant, you can’t compare the two - there is just so much more consistency over the season.
“I know I’m quite young, so with a bit of training and looking forward to 2020 I know what I’m up against and it’s quite exciting.”.
Brittany McGowan (NSW) came up against South African sensation Caster Semenya in the women’s 800m and it was again a dominant performance from Semenya, winning in 1:54.77. McGowan’s year started with a personal best of 2.00.24 to win the Commonwealth Trials and she ran set the Australian Record over 1000m last month but she couldn’t hold that form to the end of the long season, finished eighth in 2:10.63.
Asia-Pacific Team Captain Jana Pittman played a joker card in the women’s javelin as Canberra's Kelsey-Lee Barber (nee Roberts) partnered with China’s Huihui Lyu. Lyu won the event with 63.88 metres as Barber was sixth with a solid 59.32m best.
The two day event concluded in great fashion with the 4x400m mixed relay. As expected the Americas Team comprising athletes from USA, Jamaica and Bahamas’ Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo took the gold.
The Australian team, representing Asia-Pacific, of Steve Solomon (NSW), Murray Goodwin (QLD), Anneliese Rubie (NSW) and Ella Connolly (QLD) set an 'Australian best on record' in the relatively new event to finish third. The team clocked 3:18.55, well under the previous Australian best time of 3:23.14, run at the 2017 World Relays in the Bahamas.
Team Americas won the Continental Cup for the first time with a total of 262 points, Team Europe was second with 233 pts, Team Asia-Pacific was third with 188 pts and Team Africa finished in fourth place with 142 pts.
The 25 Australian athletes helped Asia-Pacific to their best result having previously finished fourth in the first two editions (2010, 2014) of the exciting team format.
Check out Athletics Australia social channels for great videos and images from Ostrava.
Australian results on day 2:
4x400m mixed relay - Australia (Steven Solomon (N), Murray Goodwin (Q), Anneliese Rubie (N), Ella Connolly (Q)) 3rd 3:18.55 (Australian best on record)
Brooke Stratton (V) 2nd Long Jump (3rd overall) 6.71m
Stewart McSweyn (T) 4th 3000m 8:02.01
Ryan Gregson (V) 5th 1500m 3:40.91
Nicola McDermott (N) 5th High Jump 1.87m
Stephen Clough (W) 5th Pole Vault 5.10m
Kelsey Barber 6th Javelin Throw 59.32m
Brittany McGowan (Q) 8th 800m 2:10.63
Continental Cup Day 2 Winners (order of event):
M Hammer Throw - Dilshod Nazarov 77.34m (TJK/Asia-Pac), W High Jump - Mariya Lasitskene 2.00m (ANA/Europe), M Triple Jump - 17.59m (USA/Americas), M 110mH - Sergey Shubenkov 13.03 (ANA/Europe), W 800m - Caster Semenya 1:54.77 (RSA/Africa), W 200m - Shaunae Miller-Uibo 22.16 (BAH/Americas), M 400m - Abdalelah Haroun 44.72 (QAT/Asia-Pac), Javelin - Thomas Rohler 87.07m (GER/Europe), W 3000m SC - Beatrice Chepkoech 9:07.92 (KEN/Africa), M Pole Vault - Sam Kendricks 5.85m (USA/Americas), M Long Jump - Caterine Ibarguen 6.93m (COL/Americas), W 400mH - Janieve Russell 53.62 (JAM/Americas), M 1500m - Elijah Manangoi 3:40.00 (KEN/Africa), M 3000m - Paul Chelimo 7:57.13 (USA/Americas), W Shot Put - Lijiao Gong 19.63m (CHN/Asia-Pac), W Javelin - Huihui Lyu 63.88m (CHN/Asia-Pac), M 100m - Noah Lyles 10.01 (USA/Americas), Mixed 4x400m Relay - Team America 3:13.01