With the Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon, Australia’s athletes have turned it up a notch with national records tumbling and qualifiers rolling in on as the nation’s best time their run for glory in Tokyo.
Catriona Bisset (Peter Fortune) crushed her own national 800m record at the 67° ORLEN Janusz Kusocinski Memorial in Poland, clocking 1:58.09 to carve 0.69 seconds off her previous mark.
The run is the fourth fastest performance worldwide in 2021, with Bisset advancing to the upper echelon of women’s 800m runners globally just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. The improvements may continue to flow for the 27-year-old, with the feat coming in only her second race overseas since April’s national title. Bisset produced an immaculate domestic season which suggested she is in career-best form, now confirmed by her shiny new Australian and Oceania record.
Jeff Riseley (Justin Rinaldi) made it a memorable night for Australian 800m running in Poland when registering a swift 1:44.85 to secure the Olympic standard with just nine days to run in the qualifying period.
The 34-year-old now appears set for a fourth Olympic Games, with the performance his first time under 1:45 since 2012. Most impressively, Riseley managed to clinch the 1:45.20 standard in a chaotic 14-man field – weaving his way down the straight to complete his last-minute Olympic bid.
Eleanor Patterson (Alex Stewart) was right among the Australian action in Poland, with an emphatic clearance at 1.96m in the women’s high jump to take the win and edge closer to her 1.99m personal best.
Patterson’s resurgence after a series of injuries has been a credit to her character, with the former national record holder improving rapidly as she looks to join Nicola McDermott in Tokyo as two of Australia’s best medal hopefuls.
Meanwhile at the Festival of Athletics in Townsville, Jaryd Clifford (Philo Saunders) set an Australian and Oceania record of his own in the T12 5000m, running 14:04.88 in his first race since his historic marathon performance.
The record is added to Clifford’s impressive resume, which includes world records in the 1500m (3:41.34) and marathon (2:19.08) – along with being the reigning 1500m and 5000m world champion.
The 21-year-old only has one bucket list item left to achieve in the form of a Paralympic gold medal, and the days are trickling down until the Australian star will get his chance at this year’s Paralympic Games.
Nicola McDermott (Matt Horsnell) competed on Australian soil in Townsville on Friday, leaping 1.98m without fault to secure yet another Olympic qualifier before raising the bar to 2.01m in an attempt to better her own national record.
The competition was McDermott’s last in Australia before jetting overseas to ramp up her Olympic preparations, where it appears likely she will raise the bar even higher.
Matthew Clarke (Adam Didyk) produced an inspiring run in the 3000m steeplechase in Townsville, falling agonisingly short of the Olympic standard of 8:22.0 when running 8:22.62.
The stunning run saw Clarke shave over 10 seconds off his personal best and force himself into Olympic discussions, cementing his status among the nation’s best in a strong crop of steeplechasers including Ben Buckingham (Nic Bideau), Edward Trippas (Jason Vigilante) and James Nipperess (Dick Telford).
The women’s 3000m steeplechase was equally as impressive, with Cara Feain-Ryan (Ben Norton) leading home a slick field in a time of 9:36.35 to move to seventh place on the Australian all-time list.
Riley Day’s (Paul Pearce) impressive domestic campaign rolled on with her third fastest career run over 200m of 23.11 (+1.0) suggesting the 21-year-old is tracking well ahead of her Olympic debut. Day has a solid body of uninterrupted work under her belt and will reap the rewards when it counts in Tokyo.
Daniel Golubovic (Eric Brown) and Alec Diamond (Zsuzsa Olgyay-Szabo) climbed into the top 10 Australians all-time in the decathlon, recording scores of 8223 and 8000 to move to fifth and ninth placings respectively.
Golubovic was in fine form when registering personal bests in the 400m, 110m hurdles, discus and 1500m to demolish his previous best score of 7901. Meanwhile, Diamond set new personal bests in the 400m, high jump and 1500m, whilst equalling his previous marks in the long jump and pole vault.
Isis Holt (Paul Pearce) also lit up the track in Townsville, crossing the line in 28.43 (1.0). The time is the fourth fastest of her illustrious career, and is the second fastest time clocked in the 200m T35 class worldwide this year – only just behind her own time of 28.31 clocked in March in Brisbane.
Nellie Mitchell (Stephen Cain) also recorded a new T13 national record and personal best of 4:52.31 as she continues her illustrious season, narrowly missing the 4:50.00 Paralympic B standard.
One Australian already making an impression overseas is 2021 phenomenon Jye Edwards (Dick Telford), who has posted two strong wins over 1500m in his two races to date – the latest a 3:34.31 overnight in France. The win sees Edwards continue his unbeaten run in 2021.
Rorey Hunter (Dick Telford) finished in third place in the race with a new personal best of 3:36.42.