Baden and Billings lead medal haul in Sydney

95th Australian Athletics Championships

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Joel Baden of Victoria competes in the Men's High Jump Open Final during day seven of the Australian Athletics Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 1, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Championship gold to Joel Baden and two medals to Sarah Billings have lead MUAC to a strong showing at the 95th Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney.  More than 20 MUAC athletes qualified for the championships and eight days of sometimes testing conditions at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre delivered medals and personal bests a’plenty.

Billings started off proceedings with an emphatic win in the U20 800m, capping of a fine season of middle distance running that has seen her break the MUAC Open 800m record three times.  She combined with Emily Lawson on day eight to bring home a silver medal in the Open Women’s 4x400m for Victoria, fighting hard to the line.  Lawson was unlucky to miss the final of the Open 400m, with the 9th fastest time in qualifying (56.03), and backed up to run a creditable 200m as well. It’s wonderful to see Lawson competing at the highest level again after long struggles with injuries.

Baden fought through torrential rain in the qualifying round to make the High Jump final, and jumped 2.18m to win from Nik Bojic.  Baden will now be chasing the 2.30m qualifying height to secure his position on the Australian Team for the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. Joel Mason surprisingly succumbed to the conditions, with the rain reminiscent of a standard Tasmanian summer’s day.  Hannah Alderton also found the high jump qualifying tough, jumping 1.65m.  Linda Leverton comfortably qualified for the final of the triple jump with the longest jump of 13.16m.  Her 12.97m second jump in the final secured her the bronze medal before a calf injury forced her to sit out the remainder of the competition.  Kath Iannello and Tamara Mancuso fought through interrupted preparations and a nervous wait during Thursday’s qualification and torrential downpour to make it to the final.  Both cleared 3.40m with Iannello 11th and Mancuso 14th.

The final day saw more fine racing with Stella Radford winning silver in the Open 3000m Steeplechase in a personal best time of 9:55.47, putting her one step closer to selection for 2017 Universiade in Taipei.  Ruby Turner ran a massive PB as well dipping under 12 minutes for the first time with 11:55.21, with MUAC alumna Sarah McSweeney, fresh from her PhD graduation, taking 6th in 10:25.37. Jarrod Pageot took an impressive bronze medal in the Open Men’s Decathlon in his first year in the event, scoring 6605 points.  Christian Paynter collected a Decathlon PB (6311 points) as well in his first Open National championships, despite the horrendous conditions on Thursday. First year University of Melbourne student Joseph Baldwin jumped impressively early in the week to win the U20 High Jump with a 2.22m leap that propels him well up the junior international standings ahead of the next IAAF World Junior Championships. New MUAC athlete Tom Baker jumped well in the same competition to clear 2.00m in his first season under super coach Sandro Bisetto.

Masters of Architecture student Catriona Bissett, returned to her undergraduate home to run will in the 800m (2:11.17). Ashwin Singh ran well in the 100m Ambulant, (13.76, 76.82%) and 400m Ambulant (64.00, 74.52%). Isaac Hockey crowned a rapid return to form by comfortably making the Open 1500m Final and finishing 5th in a rough and tactical race in the Sunday afternoon rain.


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95th Australian Athletics Championships