Graham Croker

Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder Lachlan Renshaw relinquished his Australian 800m crown at Melbourne’s Olympic Park on Saturday night when long-time rival James Kaan won a battle of tactics – and the 2011 title.

Kaan, a former world junior finalist and fellow NSW Institute of Sport athlete, won his first national title with a well-timed run to the line over the final 200m to finish in 1:47.48, ahead of Renshaw (1:47.88) and young Victorian Johnny Rayner (1:47.98).

After an opening lap in which the leaders covered in 52.88 seconds, Renshaw found himself boxed-in in fourth place during the third quarter of the race.

Kaan took the opportunity to take the lead with 200m to run and accelerated strongly around the final bend to give himself a handy lead. It was just enough to hold off Renshaw, who rocketed home when he saw daylight, but found the finishing line and his title just out of his grasp.

Kaan said he went into the final with the plan of shadowing Renshaw, with whom he shared a lane for the first bend. “I pretty much hunted him for the first 500m,” Kaan said.

“When he got boxed in around the bend I saw that (James) Gurr and (Matthew) Hammond were still working strong at the front, so they were my next target.”

Renshaw, a commerce student at Sydney University, went in to the final as favourite after a solid season in Australia.

His final run before the championships was a second placing to world champion and Beijing gold medallist David Rudisha of Kenya at the recent Sydney Track Classic at Homebush. Rudisha ran 1:44.81 to win the Classic, with Renshaw recording 1:46.06, outside his personal best of 1:45.66 set two weeks earlier in Melbourne.

Renshaw’s next mission will be the World Championships in Daegu, Korea from August 27 to September 4. But to get there he needs an A-qualifying time of 1:45:40.

He has already competed at the World Junior Championships in 2006, the World University Games in 2007, the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

Meanwhile, another Sydney University Sports Scholarship holder, Angela Ballard, collected two silver medals at the Australian Championships, with second placings in the women’s wheelchair 100m and 400m events.

Madison de Rozario, from the West Australian Institute of Sport, won the 100m in 18.65s, ahead of Ballard in 18.76 and Chrissie Dawes (NSWIS) 18.61.

The three finished in the same order in the 400m, with de Rozario claiming gold in 1m 77s, ahead of Ballard in 1m 06.10s and Dawes in 1m 03.17s.

Although competing against some of the greats of the sport during her career, including Louise Savage, who is now her coach, Dawes and Holly Ladmore, Ballard has amassed an enviable record at the Australian Championships.

She won the 100m women’s wheelchair open title in 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008, and finished second in 2000, 2003, 2010 and this year.

Her record in the 200m event includes gold in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2010, silver in 2000 and 2005 and bronze in 2006.

Competing in the 400m, she won gold in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2010, silver in 2004 and bronze in 2002 and 2006.

While in the 800m, the psychology (Hons) student won gold in 1999 and 2001, silver in 2000 and 2005, and bronze in 2002 and 2004.

She also won the 1500m title in 2005 and 2010.

A triple Paralympian (Sydney, Rome and Beijing) Ballard has also competed at World Championships in 1998, 2002 and 2006 and the Commonwealth Games in 2006.


Australian Championships – Olympic Park, Melbourne

Men’s 800m: James Kaan (NSWIS) 1m 47.48s, Lachlan Renshaw (SU NSWIS) 1:47.48, Johnny Rayner (Vic) 1:47.98, James Gurr (NSW) 1:48.39.

Women’s Wheelchair 100m: Madison de Rozario (WAIS) 18.65s, Angela Ballard (SU NSWIS) 18.76, Chrissie Dawes (NSWIS) 18.61.

Women’s Wheelchair 400m: Madison de Rozario (WAIS) 1m 77s, Angela Ballard (SU NSWIS) 1m 06.10s, Chrissie Dawes (NSWIS) 1m 03.17s.