Graham Croker
Sydney University athletes won seven gold, one silver and two bronze medals to finish second on the overall medal tally at the recent NSW Championships at Homebush.
SUAC spokesman Dean Gleeson said the results were some of the finest in the club’s 132-year history, with the highlight being the men’s 800m, won by Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder Lachlan Renshaw.
“The men’s 800m has enjoyed a renaissance in Australia in the past few weeks and is now one of the most competitive events nationally,” Gleeson said. “The assembled field boasted most of the country’s 800m talent as well.
“The 800m heats did not disappoint and were highlighted by the desperation of SUAC’s Mark Abercromby, who fell 9m from the finish line when clearly in a position to qualify for the final. He regained his feet, only to stumble and then dive head first into the photo finish camera, making the final by 0.09sec.”
The final was a rough and tactical race featuring three SUAC competitors, including Beijing Olympian Renshaw, who controlled the race from the front to win in 1:51.47, edging out James Kaan and James Gurr.
The run augers well for Renshaw, who now only needs to finish in the top three at the National Championships in Perth to gain automatic selection for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.
Renshaw, a Bachelor of Commerce student, had turned in an indifferent performance the previous weekend when he ran fifth at the Melbourne Track Classic. He narrowly missed out on selection for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, but earned selection for the Beijing Olympic Games after winning the 800m at the 2008 Australian Track and Field Championships in Brisbane.
In the lead-up to the 2008 national title, Renshaw ran a personal best 1:45.7 at a Melbourne Grand Prix meet. He’s hoping to repeat that effort at the Australian Championships.
Meanwhile, defending national and state 110m hurdle champion Justin Merlino edged out long-time rival Greg Eyears from Bankstown Sports to take out a second state crown.
Merlino, who is returning from a hamstring injury, will go the National Championships in Perth confident that he has the wood over his rivals. A win at the nationals will also strengthen his claims for Commonwealth Games selection.
In the men’s 1500m, SUAC’s James Nipperess held off the fast-finishing Kale Symmons from the ACT to take the NSW title, while SUAC’s Brad Croker took the bronze medal in a near personal best time.
In other distance events, SUAC’s Russel Desaix Chin recorded a gun-to-post victory in the men’s 10 000m. Chin will run the 5000m at the national titles.
SUAC’s Dereck Mulhearn won the state title in the men’s 5000m walk, with his brother Jordon Mulhearn taking the silver medal for the club.
Other gold medalists included Stephanie Langridge in the women’s pole vault and Angela Ballard in the 400m wheelchair, while Annabel Davies continued her good season taking bronze in the women’s javelin.
And to top off a great weekend for the club, Sam Steven’s (400m), Lizzie Jenkins (100m and 200m), Tom Richardson (800m), Mark Abercromby (800m), Andrew Giltrap (javelin) Rob Currer (high jump), Erin Binks (400m), Stephen Andreazza (200m) and Andrew Clarke (100m) all made the State finals in their events.
In other athletics news, SUAC’sd Lara Tamsett finished 32nd in the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoscz, Poland, her best result at international level. She was the second Australian behind former World Cross-Crountry champion Benita Willis.
Gleeson said Tamsett would be pleased with the result. “To put things in perspective, the World Cross-Country Championships are easily the toughest event for distance runners to compete in,” he said. “Lara will take valuable experience out of this leading into her Commonwealth Games campaign.”