Steven Lewis at the 2013 Perth Track Classic (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Perth, Australia

Rutherford, Lewis make it a night for the Brits in Perth

Victories for Great Britain’s London 2012 Olympic Games Long Jump champion Greg Rutherford and his pole vaulting compatriot Steve Lewis gave a decidedly red, white and blue hue to the Perth Track Classic on Saturday night (16).

The Perth Track Classic is part of the Australian Athletics Tour which concludes on April 6 with the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge, the first meeting in the2013 IAAF World Challenge series.

On a warm night in Australia’s most western state capital, Rutherford reprised his Olympic victory over Australia’s Mitchell Watt in the Long Jump and Lewis prevailed over the USA’s former World champion Brad Walker as well as Australia’s own former World and Olympic champion Steve Hooker.

Despite those two Australians stars suffering defeats, there was plenty for the local fans to get excited about, with Dani Samuels continuing her impressive form in the Discus, and Alana Boyd and Kim Mickle taking strong wins in the Pole Vault and Javelin, respectively.

Rutherford wins as Watt withdraws

The anticipated clash between Rutherford and 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Mitchell Watt never materialised as the Australian was forced to pull out after running through on his first jump of the competition.

Watt later said he was cramping in the calf of his take-off leg and did not want to risk tearing the muscle.

It took only a modest 7.89m for Rutherford, that being good enough to see off the 7.76m effort of Ghana’s 2005 World Championships silver medallist Ignisious Gaisah.

Rutherford, perhaps not surprisingly in his first competition in six months, looked a little rusty on his opening jumps 7.75m and 7.64m, before running through on his third effort (measured at 6.12m); But he found a better rhythm as the competition progressed, improving to his winning distance in the fourth round and following that up with a 7.79m.

The pole vault boasted big names in Lewis, Hooker and Walker, but, in the end, Lewis was the only one who cleared 5.60m. He got that at the third try to take the win from Walker, who went over 5.50m, while Hooker could only clear 5.35m. Lewis then failed at his three attempts at 5.70m

Samuels continues in rich vein

The 2009 World champion Dani Samuels was below her own expectations, but still produced a solid 62.72m in the women’s Discus Throw.

Samuels threw 64.46m in Sydney last week, and wanted to go beyond 64 metres in each of her domestic competitions.

“My goal is to get 64 in every competition,” she said afterwards. “I fell a bit short of that today. If you’re consistent at a high level, you’re bound to win a medal at the major championships.”

In the men’s discus, 16-year-old Matthew Denny continued his dream visit to Perth, with four personal bests with the senior implement topped by a best throw of 54.29m, after taking out six throws gold medals at the Australian Junior Championships earlier in the week.

Daegu 2011 World championships finalist Kim Mickle was also a little down on her Sydney opener, but she reached 60.11m to easily win the women’s Javelin in her hometown. In the men’s event, held concurrently, young Tasmanian thrower Hamish Peacock reached 76.31m.

Anderson and Newman show benefit of races

Visiting US athletes Jeshua Anderson and Calesio Newman both showed the benefit of racing in Sydney a week ago.

Anderson, a 47.93 man in the 400m Hurdles, lost to New Zealand’s Michael Cochrane in Sydney but was a different athlete in Perth. He ran 49.93 to defeat Ian Dewhurst’s personal best 50.31.

“I haven’t worked over hurdles the past month or two,” said Anderson about his training in snow-bound Washington, “so coming here and breaking 50 seconds, I’ll take that. Hopefully, there’s some 48s and low 47s coming soon.”

Sprinter Newman lost to Tim Leathart and Joshua Ross in Sydney, but here he was ahead of both men as he  won the 100m in 10.37 into a stiff headwind (-1.2 mps).

“In Sydney I rushed my start a bit,” explained Newman, “so I tried to be a bit more patient and execute my race better.”

Patience paid off for Liam Zamel-Paez in the High Jump, too. He cleared 2.16m and then looked on as 19-year-old Brandon Starc took the lead with clearances at 2.19m and then a personal best 2.23m. Re-entering the competition at 2.29m, three centimetres above his previous best from 2010, Zamel-Paez got that height on his third attempt.

Not since the retirement of national record holder Tim Forsyth has an Australian jumped that high.

Alana Boyd cleared 4.50m with he third attempt to take the women’s Pole Vault from Liz Parnov, who went over 4.40m.

"I wanted more, it was a little bit rusty to be honest. My preparation hasn’t been great considering tough training conditions at home but I felt good on the runway and I’m sure my velocity and other factors will come together in the next few weeks,” said Boyd, who had 4.60m as a target but she has another chance to get that height at next week’s meeting in Brisbane.

Len Johnson for the IAAF