Matt Denny at the 2013 Australian Junior Championships (© Getty Images)
Sometime soon, maybe even by the time you are reading this, Matthew Denny is going to have a rest. The imposing young 16-year-old has certainly earned one after his exploits over the last three days in Perth.
Having flown across Australia from east to west to contest the Australian Junior Championships, the teenager from Queensland has scarcely paused to draw breath, winning six titles – three each in both the under-16 and under-18 age groups – in a three-day spell which finished on Friday (15).
In doing so, Denny clinched selection for the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships, which will be held in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, in the Discus, his number one event, and the Hammer.
It potentially could have been three out of three, as he also won the Shot Put but, under IAAF rules for the World Youth Championships, athletes can do only two individual events.
Denny was poorly but others felt worse
Ironically, Denny arrived in the Western Australia capital feeling under the weather.
“I came over here and hoped for the best to be honest,” said Denny. ” I haven’t been that well and thought it would have an effect on how I performed. Thankfully it didn’t.”
Indeed, any of his rivals with thoughts of catching him off-form soon felt decidedly worse.
Denny’s success began when he won the boy’s U18 Discus with a 66.40m throw on the first day of the Championships on Wednesday, before he rattled off three victories in the U18 Hammer Throw with 74.29m, the U20 Discus Throw with a personal best of 58.67m and the U18 Shot Put with another best of 19.39m on day two.
Returning to the thrower’s circle on Friday morning, Denny finished off his Championships with two fine wins when he won the U20 Hammer Throw with another best of 73.29m, and finally the U20 Shot Put with his fourth personal best in three days when he reached 16.92m.
“This shows that I am capable of doing something good at the World Youth Championships and hopefully again at championships in the future,” reflected Denny.
“It shows that I can cope with competing in varied conditions that I am not used to, and that gives me confidence in the long run. I am just really proud to be honest. It has been a great few days.”
Several other throwers are certain to join Denny on the plane to Donetsk July.
Alexandra Hulley (Hammer Throw), Yasenaca Denicaucau (Discus Throw) Paletina Lemi (Shot Put) and Mackenzie Little (Javelin Throw) have ensured Australia will have full representation in the women’s throws.
Wassall distance double
Sydney girl Georgia Wassall, also 16, completed a double in the U18 800m and 1500m, but she will have to wait to see if she will be allowed to run the longer event in Donetsk as she only has one qualifying time and Athletics Australia is asking for two.
Wassall, who ran a personal best 2:04.68 in Sydney last month, led most of the way to win a rain-drenched 800m on Thursday to win in 2:06.88 after pushing hard from the bell.
“I know that I am strong over the third-quarter and I wanted to make sure that I came into the run home with enough lead to hold on,” she said.
“It was the hardest run for me in a while to be honest. I haven’t had a feeling like that in my legs for a while and I’m so stoked that I was able to hold on. It’s what I might need to do when I go to the World Youths so to do it here is a step in the right direction.”
Wassall then won the 1500m on Friday night in 4:29.78.
In keeping with Australia’s performances in the senior ranks in recent years, there will also be solid representation in the jumps in Donetsk.
Joel Baden produced a 2.15m personal best to win the boy’s High Jump and book his place in the team while Henry Smith qualified in the Long Jump with 7.54m.
On the women’s side, Nina Kennedy, coached by Alex Parnov, moved to ninth on the Australian all-time Pole Vault list with a leap of 4.31m and Eleanor Patterson clinched automatic selection with a High Jump win at 1.86m.
By your correspondent’s unofficial count, 15 young Australians have booked themselves tickets to Ukraine by winning in Perth, and also having the required two qualifying performances (just one is required in the 3000m and multi-events).
A number of others will have to wait until next week’s official team announcement before learning whether they have received the benefit of the selectors’ discretion.
One or two have hopes of achieving a qualifying performance at the weekend’s Perth Track Classic or in the remained U20 events. The U18 events in Perth have already concluded but the junior titles continue to be decided until Sunday.
Indications are that Australia will select a team predominantly of field event athletes.
Just four athletes, all girls, have currently qualified automatically for track events: Molly Blakey in the 400m, Georgia Wassall in the 800m, Amy McCormick in the 2000m Steeplechase and Daniela Roman in the 100m Hurdles.
Nathan Brill clinched a place in the 10,000m Race Walk while Aliyah Johnson, a training partner of London 2012 Olympic Games Long Jump silver medallist Mitchell Watt, had already got a spot in the Heptathlon. The rest will compete solely on the field.
Len Johnson for the IAAF