Wapshott overcoming a horror run of injuries to produce the performance of her career in the women’s event.
Like Deakes, Athens Olympic bronze medallist Jane Saville missed the women’s trial due to injury, although she was on hand to cheer for sister Natalie, who was with a group of four walkers that included Great Britain’s Jo Jackson, South Australian Claire Woods and Victorian Kellie Wapshott.
The quartet was still together at half way, before Jackson eased away leaving Woods and Wapshott to battle it out for the national title and the coveted automatic Olympic nomination.
With the pace on the A-qualifying mark of 1:33.30 throughout, Jackson cruised to victory in 1:31.40 - a personal best by nearly five minutes.
Woods and Wapshott duelled over the last lap, with Wapshott coming from behind to take the Australian title in 1:32.57, with Woods next in 1:33.02 – both big personal bests and under the A-qualifying mark. Natalie Saville finished fourth in 1:35.10.
For Wapshott, 26, an osteopath who competed for the Knox Athletics Club in Melbourne before moving to the AIS in 2006, the performance puts a sorry run of injuries behind her.
“I had a fantastic 5k at the state titles and hoped I could do it today. I’ve had a bad run with injuries and had hamstring surgery, similar to what Nathan had in 2007, so missed the Commonwealth Games and the world champs, so this is such as thrill,” she said.
With Tallent already nominated for the 50km event, Wapshott adds her name to the seven Australian athletes have been chosen for Olympic nomination; Jana Rawlinson (400m hurdles), Nathan Deakes (50km walk), Craig Mottram (5000m), Steve Hooker (pole vault), Luke Adams (20km walk), Jared Tallent (20km and 50km walk) and Adam Rutter (50km walk).
With the Australian Championships and selection trials commencing in Brisbane on Thursday, the list of pre-nominated athletes is expected to grow further ahead of the final selection deadline to the Australian Olympic Committee on July 4, 2008.
Australian 20km Road Walking Championships
Fawkner Park, Melbourne 23/02/2008
Women 20k Race Walk Open
1, Jo Jackson, GBR, 1:31:40; 2, Kellie Wapshott, AIS, 1:32:57; 3, Claire Woods, SA, 1:33:02; 4, Natalie Saville, NSWIS, 1:35:10; 5, Megan Szirom, VIC, 1:36:37; 6, Cheryl Webb, NSWIS, 1:38:09; 7, Jess Heazlewood*, NSW, 1:41:55; 8, Bekki Lee*, NSW, 1:43:37; 9, Lynette Bannister*, TAS, 1:46:43. Michelle French, NSW, DNF, Justijana Roseman, VIC, DNF, Fiona Alldis*, NSW, DQ.