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Athletics - 15. August 2008.

Australia's Track and Field day 1 from Beijing

Evening Session

In a team of debutants, our youngest, 20 year old Dani Samuels, has automatically qualified for the Women’s discus final.

After fouling on her first two attempts, the pressure was mounting for the Sydney-sider. 61.50m would automatically qualify Samuels so her 61.72m placed her 7th overall and hurled her into Monday night’s final.

With hype and anticipation circulating around the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Australia’s duo Victoria Mitchell and Donna MacFarlane were in with a good chance of making the final.

Mitchell complimented her green and gold by donning bright pink hair; a tradition she has been privileged to build. She struggled through the early fast pace, eventually clocking 9.47.88 for 13th place.

Donna MacFarlane went into her race hotly rated and on paper, the third fastest in the heat. The Tasmanian never looked comfortable, appearing somewhat unsettled at the water barriers. The race was won in a time three seconds slower than her personal best, though it proved too hot to handle as she battled on to place 9th in 9.32.05.

Heptathlete Kylie Wheeler continued her impressive day, recording a seasons best in the Shot put. Wheeler launched the 4kg implement 13.06m, her furthest throw in competition this year; an effort that placed her 4th in her group and 25th overall.

Kylie backed that performance up shortly afterwards in the 200m placing 4th in as many events for the day clocking 24.28.

Morning Session

Tamsyn Lewis has qualified for the semi finals of the 800m at the Beijing Olympics during the first day of competition at the Birds Nest.

Our 800m girls were up early in the program, with Lewis in action alongside Victorian team mate Madeleine Pape.

For Pape, her Olympic experience lasted 2:03.09, as she placed sixth in the first heat of the women’s 800m. In a tactical race, eventual winner, Russian Svetlana Klyuka, controlled the race from the front by taking it out slowly, 62.93sec for the first lap.

Knowing how tough it would be to progress to the next round, Pape was prepared to run fast.

“It was difficult in a race like that, they are so strong and they kick so hard.

“I treated it like a final and gave it everything, though I hoped it would be quicker in the first event,” she told Channel Seven.

It was a stark contrast for Lewis, who blew the race open with a blitzing first lap of 57.93. Using similar tactics to what she employed last year in Osaka, Lewis knew her best chance of qualifying was to take it out and try and run a fast time.

“Typical me, I went out at a suicide pace.

“I looked at the other heats which were all slow and I didn’t want to get run out in the heats,” she revealed in her post race interview with Channel Seven.

The current world indoor champion again dipped under 2min, finishing 4th in 1:59.67. With the first three in each of the six heats to automatically qualify, Lewis’ fourth placing was also enough to make it through to the semi finals, as the next fastest qualifier.

Lewis will contest the 800m semi final at 9:30pm tomorrow and has also confirmed she will run in the 400m heats, which are also held tomorrow at 2:10pm.

Acknowledging the difficult nature of the Olympic Games, Lewis was also quick to admire her team mate Pape in her interview with Channel Seven.

“Madeleine did amazing to get here and will use it as a good experience,” she said.

Heptathlete Kylie Wheeler kicked off the track & field program with a 5th placing in her first event of the women’s heptathlon.

Running from the lane closest to the crowd in the 100m hurdles, Wheeler clocked 13.68 seconds, earning her 1024 points and placing her 18th out of the 43 competitors.

Wheeler then jumped out of her skin in the High Jump, producing a personal best of 1.89m in placing =1st overall in the event. The performance was 3cm better than her previous best and was so good, it would have won her the gold medal at the Australian Titles this year.

After two events from the morning program, she wits in 4th place.

For day 2 schedule and up to date details throughout competition, visit the Athletics Australia Beijing Centre.
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