Big year ahead for University athletes

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Graham Croker

Sydney University Athletics Club has three competitors in contention for selection at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea and a number of others with the potential to make the London Olympic Games, World Cross Country and World University Games teams.

That’s the view of SUAC coach Dean Gleeson following the recent Australian summer season, culminating with the Melbourne and Sydney Classics and the Australian Championships.

Gleeson says 800m performer Lachlan Renshaw, 18-year-old 400m runner Anneliese Rubie and distance runner Lara Tamsett are strong prospects for world championship selection after recent performances.

“The Athletics Club continued it’s very strong season at the Australian Championships posting a number of good results and will move into the Australian domestic winter season and the European summer season with high expectations,” he said

 “The standout male performer has been Lachlan Renshaw, who has had his best domestic season ever, posting a personal best at the Melbourne Track Classic. Two weeks later he finished 2nd to world record holder David Rudisha and beat Olympic gold medallist Asbel Kiprop in the same race at the Sydney Track Classic.”

Although Renshaw relinquished his Australian 800m crown – finishing second to James Kaan – it was a tactical race and he had decided to train through the nationals with a bigger picture in mind.

Gleeson said Renshaw is just one tenth of a second outside the qualifying standard for the World Championships and, as men’s 800m in Australia is probably the strongest it has ever been in terms of depth of talent, he was always a chance of being beaten by a number of others in the field.

 “As the race panned out Lachlan left himself a lot of work to do in the last 150m,” Gleeson said. “He ran in to 2nd position but could not reel in Kaan. Lachlan was still able to post a time of 1.47.88 which was quite solid considering he posted his largest ever training week leading up to the nationals.

“Lachlan will race at The Prefontaine Meet in Oregon and also the New York Diamond League Meet in late May. These are without doubt the biggest races that he will have featured in and offer the best chance for him to qualify for the World Championships in Daegu.”

 Gleeson said the standout Sydney University competitor in the women’s events was Anneliese Rubie.

“She smashed her personal best taking more than half a second to finish 3rd in the women’s 400m in a time of 53.31,” he said. “She ran a World University Games qualifier and although not yet selected has certainly done enough to gain selection for the World Championships 4×400 relay team. And she’s not yet 19 years old.”

He said to put it all in perspective, the nationals were held in very cold conditions and very few athletes over the entire meet ran personal bests. “Taking nearly half a second off your best time would indicate that another big breakthrough is not too far away,” he said.

And Lara Tamsett, who was the first Australian and 29th overall at the recent World Cross Country Championships in the open women’s event, is now in contention for the World University Games.

Meanwhile, other results from the Australian Championships included Andrew Giltrap’s effort in the Men’s javelin where he posted a best ever performance to finish 4th with a throw of 69.50m.

“Giltrap’s first season in the Open division has seen him improve his personal best significantly, big things to come from him in the next four to five years,” Gleeson said.

 In other men’s results Lachlan Chisholm and James Nipperess finished 7th and 9th respectively in the men’s 1500m. Chisholm the two-time national champion has run into some really good form and with a solid winter at home is a realistic chance to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012. Nipperess challenged the leaders with 180m to go but faded in the straight in a very tactical affair.

 In the sprints, Andrew Clarke ran well in the heats of the 100m but missed the start in the semi-finals.

 Junior athletes James Dooley (100m and 200m), Ray Smith (110m hurdles) and Ronan Casey(1500m) all ran well and will be better for the experience of having competed against much older competitors.

 In other women’s results, Jacqui Fry ran a personal best in the 400m hurdles narrowly missing the final at her first attempt. Larissa Pasternatsky (200m) and LIzzie Jenkins (100m and 200m) ran strong races with improvement to come.

 “With three athletes in the mix for selection at the World Championships in Daegu and a number of others with the potential to make London, World Cross Country and World University Games, the Athletics Club is in a very good place at present,” Gleeson said.