Nicola McDermott became the first Australian woman in history to clear two metres in the high jump with a stunning leap.
Nicola McDermott became the first Australian woman in history to clear 2 metres in the high jump, soaring over the bar to surpass Eleanor Patterson’s mark of 1.99m and set a new Australian record at the track and field nationals.
McDermott was the headline act at a meet that gave further weight to the argument that there are some genuine medal hopes in Australia’s athletics team that will board the plane bound for the Tokyo Olympics this July.
What loomed as one of the biggest days on the domestic athletics calendar delivered in spades, with Australian records tumbling and a further nine athletes booking their ticket to Tokyo.
McDermott was thrilled to better the magic two metre mark.
“To be able to jump it today with my friends and family and an incredible crowd is just without words, it hasn’t sunk in it. When I was on my second attempt I just had a big smile on my face because I knew it was sealed,” McDermott said.
The new Australian record holder was quick to sing the praises of her coach Mark Hornsell.
“We’ve been training together for fourteen years and he said as soon as I started that I was going to be the one to jump two meters. I held onto that as a promise.”
“Two metres isn’t the end, it’s going to go higher.”
Jye Edwards produced the run of his life in the final of the 1500m, toppling warm favourite Stewart McSwyen in a breakthrough performance. McSweyn was forced to do a mountain of work in front before Edwards stole the show on the home straight to stop the clock in 3:33.99.
The time falls comfortably faster than the Olympic qualification standard of 3:35.00, and by taking the national title in the same blow Edwards will be automatically nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for Tokyo.
“It was pretty brutal, I can’t really believe it to be honest. That was the last thing I expected coming into this Championship – I just wanted to race well,” Edwards said.
“I just made that split second decision to go after Stewy and I’m so happy it paid off.”
Although McSweyn has already been selected to the Australian Olympic Team, his performance will see him nominated to contest the 1500m event in Tokyo.
Liz Clay continued her unbeaten run this season in the 100m hurdles to secure her maiden national title and move one step closer to her Olympic dream. Clay clocked 12.97 on her way to victory, and with two Olympic qualifiers under her belt, received an automatic nomination for Tokyo.
“I’ve had the season of my life but today was so stressful because all I had to do was win. My goal was to execute the start and get in front, and I was smiling from the sixth hurdle because I was like I’m gonna win! I’m gonna win!” Clay said.
Catriona Bisset stormed home to win the 800m national title, crossing the line in 2:00.45, much to her relief.
“I am so relieved, I just wanted to win so badly. I’ve been dreaming about this race and running through this race in my head for weeks now, and I think I could’ve done it in my sleep I’ve done it so many times now,” she said.
“The whole idea was to go through quick. You can’t always get a free ride on Catriona Bisset, sometimes you have got to work for it.”
The women’s 200m final saw Riley Day tear away from the field over the final stretch to secure her Olympic nomination. Her performance was a continuation of her form this season, highlighted by her 22.77 at the Queensland Track Classic.
“I was really nervous just because there was so much riding on this race. I’m really excited to have my second national title in the 200 meters and to be going to the Olympics,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dani Stevens launched the disc 62.74m to secure her 14th national title and an automatic nomination to the Australian Olympic Committee, with the 2009 world champion set to become a four-time Olympian.
The feat comes after a career-threatening injury to Stevens, who at many points on the road to recovery was not sure if she was going to throw again let alone in the realm of the Olympic standard.
“It’s great to be consistent at high 62’s and to get the win at the national championships and hopefully I’m on that plane to Tokyo,” she said.
“This team has been the hardest for me to make the one I’m the most grateful to make. Each Olympics and have been so different to each other and I’ve been improving with each one. Fourth in Rio really fires me up, I would love to walk away with a medal.”
Genevieve Gregson all but cemented her ticket to a third Olympic Games, having won the 3000m steeplechase title in a strong performance. Gregson has dabbled in various events over the last 18 months but relished being back competing in her pet event. Gregson’s finishing time of 9:36.85 provides a solid foundation for the Australian champion to build from.
Brooke Stratton locked away an Olympic qualifier of 6.84m in the long jump and in the process won the event, ensuring automatic nomination for the Tokyo Games. Stratton has endured a long road back through injury and is chasing her career best form of 7.05m from 2016.
“I’m over the moon, it’s been a tough season and I was a bit unsure if I was even going to be able to make it out here today so 6.84 is a great way to finish the domestic season and book my ticket to Tokyo,” she said.
It wasn’t Kurtis Marschall’s best day in the pole vault, after entering the competition at 5.50m and failing to make a clearance. Despite his performance, Marschall was nominated to represent Australia at the Olympics after jumping the Olympic qualifying standard multiple times over the Tokyo qualifying period.
Australia’s premier Paralympic athletes also put in some incredible performances.
Having recently acquired Australian citizenship, Michal Burian proved himself worthy of making his Australian debut in the F44 javelin at the Tokyo Paralympics, after breaking the national record, locking in his eighth Paralympic qualifier with a 61.24m throw.
Although she was a no-starter in the women’s 200m final, Isis Holt continued her climb towards the Tokyo Paralympics when she clocked 28.46, to finish far ahead of her contenders. Holt’s performance adds another notch to her growing list of A-qualifiers.
After breaking a national record earlier in the meet in the 400m T47 event, Alissa Jordaan repeated the feat, this time in the women’s 200m ambulant event, where she ran 27.50 to place third. Her results over the Championships are reflective of her push towards her first Paralympics in Tokyo.
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