08.04.2008 – Graham Croker
When he won the 800m title at the recent 2008 Australian Track and Field Championships in Brisbane, Lachlan Renshaw saw the first part of a long-held dream come true. A national title had always been on the agenda for the 21-year-old Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder.
The second part of the dream was being named in a 25-strong Australian athletics team to attend the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. When the call from Athletics Australia came through two days after the nationals, the Renshaw story had a new chapter.
“I saw the number come up,” Renshaw said. “I knew who it was and my heart jumped. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in. I’m actually going to the Olympics.
“It’s been the dream my whole life. The story more often than not is the athlete trains his heart out and does all the work, but just falls short and doesn’t make it. To have the work pay off is unbelievable and to have (Beijing) set in stone is just fantastic.”
Renshaw a Commerce student, dedicated his sporting life to the tartan track when he began competing at Little Athletics as a seven-year-old.
His raw talent became evident during his time at Sydney Grammar School, when he won the GPS Open 800m title as a Year 9 student in 2002 and defended it in ’03. ’04 and 05. He still holds the GPS Open record at 1:50.06.
When he arrived at the University of Sydney in 2006 and joined the Athletics Club, the dream of running professionally became a reality. Training with coach John Atterton, alongside the likes of Nick Bromley and Frazer Dowling, helped Renshaw’s athletics career blossom. His new and intensified training regime was rewarded with a series of stunning performances in 2006.
After narrowly missing a spot in the Commonwealth Games team for Melbourne, Renshaw overcame the disappointment by winning the 800m junior title at the 2006 Under-20 National Championships in Adelaide.
That led him to the 2006 World Junior Athletics Championships in Beijing, where he finished second in his heat and produced a personal best time of 1:47.00m, a time that was good enough to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. A minor mishap in the semi-final narrowly edged him out of the final – he finished ninth overall.
The time placed him in the top 12 in the world junior ranks, and moved him to No.2 on the Australian Under-20 all-time list for 800m.
Renshaw moved into open company in 2007, but his domestic season was plagued by injuries. He did make it to the World University Games in Bangkok, where he finished 5th in his heat and didn’t make it through to the semi-finals.
He put the disappointments behind him at the start of the 2008 season and won the opening event – the Sydney Track Classis in January – in a personal best time. He followed that with a win in Canberra, where he posted an Olympic B-Qualifying time for the 800m, in another personal best time of 1:46.90.
But it was at the next big race of the season – the Melbourne Grand Prix – in February where he made his mark, running an Olympic A qualifier time – and another personal best – of 1:45.7.
“That was a massive breakthrough for me and thrust me into the spotlight for Olympic selection,” Renshaw said. “With the A Qualifier under my belt, all I had to do to be considered for selection in the Australian team was win the National Championship.”
Move ahead to Brisbane one week later and Renshaw continued his unbeaten run through the 2008 domestic season by taking out the national title, a win that earned him Olympic selection and made a dream come true.