Dani Samuels, winner of the discus at the 2014 Australian Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Melbourne, Australia

Samuels and Pearson highlight Australian Championships

Dani Samuels stamped her authority on the women’s discus at the Australian Championships with a personal best throw of 66.81m to win on Sunday (4), the fourth and final day of action in Melbourne.

Saving her huge mark for the sixth and final round, the 2009 world champion broke her four-year-old PB of 65.84m to continue a strong domestic season that also includes two other throws beyond 65 metres.

The championships doubled up as the official trials for the Commonwealth Games, and Samuels will start as the overwhelming favourite in Glasgow this summer.

“I knew that I had nailed it, I felt it straight away, and to see almost 67 metres come up is amazing,” said the 25-year-old. “All the training I have done over the years has now paid off, it hasn’t been for nothing despite not hitting what I thought I could.

“Throws like that don’t come along everyday so it’s a great result. I’m very happy.”

Dominant in her favoured event, Olympic champion Sally Pearson won the 100m hurdles in 12.72 in near still conditions. It was her 13th national crown, having won her 12th just two days earlier in the 100m.

On that occasion, she was not so fortunate with the wind as she battled a -4.1m/s headwind to stop the clock at 11.70, finishing two tenths of a second ahead of national record-holder Melissa Breen.

In her first competition since breaking her own Oceanian javelin record, world silver medallisr Kim Mickle was an easy winner with 64.28m. All five of her valid attempts would have been enough to win over Kelsey-Lee Roberts, who threw 58.58m in second place.

While the women’s javelin was clear-cut from the outset, the men’s contest was packed with excitement. New Zealand guest Stuart Farquhar took an early lead, only to be overtaken by 19-year-old Luke Cann in round two with his 78.19m PB.

That lead was short-lived, though, as Josh Robinson moved into pole position with 79.66m. He too was surpassed by Hamish Peacock, who produced the second-best throw of his life with 80.51m. But with the last throw of the competition, Robinson regained the lead with a lifetime best of 82.48m, smashing his previous PB set more than seven years ago.

Steven Solomon, who made the Olympic final while still a junior in 2012, took a break from his studies in the US to contest the 400m in Melbourne. Despite the cool and windy conditions, he won decisively in 45.36, his fastest performance outside of the London 2012 Olympics.

Having ditched her trademark bright pink hair for a more natural shade of blonde, Victoria Mitchell produced her fastest performance for eight years to win the 3000m steeplechase in 9:42.01. In second, Madeleine Heiner clocked 9:48.25 to smash the PB she set eight years ago. Heiner missed out on selection for the Commonwealth Games in 2006 then took a break from the sport to focus on her studies. Now back on track, the 26-year-old is now in contention for a place on Australia’s team for this year’s Commonwealth Games.

Although his hiatus wasn’t as long as eight years, Robbie Crowther also made something of a comeback to win the long jump. The former world junior champion jumped 8.03m, the third-best jump of his career, to defeat 2010 world indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre by 16 centimetres.

“It’s been a while since I’ve jumped like that,” said Crowther. “Last year I was working full-time and playing touch football; I’d pretty much stopped jumping. To be back out there is awesome.”

There were some other notable performances in the jumping events. 2009 world champion Phillips Idowu won the triple jump with a wind-assisted 16.71m. It was his third competition in as many weeks on Australian soil, having taken a break from the sport in 2013.

World youth champion Eleanor Patterson won the high jump with 1.92m, just four centimetres shy of the world youth best she equalled towards the end of last year.

Elsewhere, Brooke Stratton set a PB of 6.70m to win the long jump, while Benn Harradine was an easy winner of the discus with 62.23m.

Athletics Australia and Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF