British sprinter Zharnel Hughes (© Getty Images)
Strong winds hampered performances at the Queensland International Track Classic in Brisbane on Wednesday (28), the final warm-up meeting before the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But even a -1.6m/s breeze couldn’t slow down Britain’s Zharnel Hughes in the 200m.
Competing in the second of three 200m heats, Hughes sped to a 20.23 victory to finish several metres ahead of Leon Reid (20.90), recording the fastest 200m on Australian soil since 2001. Botswana’s Isaac Makwala won the first heat in 20.51 into a slightly weaker wind (-0.9m/s).
Hughes has started his 2018 in tremendous form. He ran 20.28 on his season opener in Kingston in January, and then clocked times of 10.18 and 10.01, a PB, over 100m at the same venue in February. The 22-year-old, who finished fifth in the 200m at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, now appears to be one of the medal favourites ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games.
Earlier in the evening, Hughes ran the second leg for England in the 4x100m. The team of Richard Kilty, Hughes, Adam Gemili and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey won in 38.31.
In most of the sprint events, the top sprinters were entered into separate heats.
Yohan Blake, Dina Asher-Smith and Elaine Thompson all won their heats comfortably. Blake, who has been told by Usain Bolt that he must retain the men’s 100m title for Jamaica, ran 10.34 to finish almost a metre ahead of Canada’s Aaron Brown, 10.41, with Australia’s Rohan Browning third in 10.46.
Olympic 100m and 200m champion Thompson won her heat of the women’s event in 11.72 (-1.7m/s), a comfortable two metres clear of Britain’s Corrine Humphreys. In another heat, Dina Asher-Smith continued her impressive form with a win in 11.31 (-1.0m/s) from Jamaica’s Olympic finalist Christania Williams, second in 11.63.
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson was the fastest in the women’s 200m, winning her heat in 23.05 (-1.3m/s) from Britain’s Bianca Williams and Australia’s Riley Day.
The English team of Asha Phillip, Asher-Smith, Williams and Humphreys won the women’s 4x100m in 43.20. Sally Pearson, who has had achilles soreness, ran the first leg for the Australian quartet which finished second in 43.97.
Despite Pearson restricting herself to the flat sprints, there was still some excellent racing in the hurdles, albeit in the longer version.
South Africa’s Wanda Nel ran 55.01 to win the women’s race narrowly from Jamaica’s Janieve Russell, 55.10.
British pair Jack Green and Jacob Paul both finished within 50 seconds in the men’s event, Green running 49.80 for the win and Paul 49.96 in second place.
Nettey close to seven metres
The wind was more of a help than a hindrance for some athletes, and in the long jump it was blowing on the backs of the competitors.
Canada's Pan-American Games champion Christabel Nettey topped a quality competition in which three women jumped beyond 6.80m. Nettey won with 6.92m (1.8m/s) with Australia's Brooke Stratton a close second with 6.88m (1.9m/s). Britain's 2015 world silver medallist Shara Proctor was third with a slightly wind-assisted 6.84m (2.3m/s).
Australian javelin duo Kelsey-Lee Roberts and Hamish Peacock, both bronze medallists at the previous edition of the Commonwealth Games, showed they will be medal contenders again.
Roberts produced a personal best of 64.57m to beat Canada’s Elizabeth Gleadle, 58.34m, in the women’s javelin, while Peacock was over the 80-metre mark in winning the men’s event with a distance of 80.25m.
Convincing wins from Mathews and Weightman
Australia’s Luke Mathews maintained his undefeated start to 2018 with a win over 1500m.
Middle-distances are a Commonwealth strength, and with Ryan Gregson and Jordan Williamsz as teammates, Mathews will have to run well just to be the leading Australian in the 1500m. But he is so far making every post a winner.
In Brisbane he ran 3:37.16 to defeat Kyle Merber of the USA, 3:37.49, and Jeff Riseley, who is not in Australia’s team, 3:38.75. Stewart McSweyn, who will run the 5000m at the Commonwealths, was fourth in 3:39.13.
Mathews is also running the 800m at the Games and impressed with a sub-1:46 run to win the Australian title last month, closing in sub-52 off an opening lap of 54 seconds.
Britain’s Laura Weightman was another to show good form leading into the Gold Coast, winning the women’s 1500m in 4:05.89 from compatriots Melissa Courtney, 4:06.70, and Eilish McColgan, 4:08.70.
Elsewhere, Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle made it two wins from two starts in the men’s long jump, winning a tight contest in which just 11 centimetres covered the first four with a wind-assisted jump of 7.95m (2.1m/s).
Olympic finalist Brandon Starc cleared 2.26m to take the men’s high jump from Canada’s Djano Lovett, 2.23m.
Len Johnson for the IAAF