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Athletics - 20. February 2008.

Highlights all night at Sydney Athletics Grand Prix


Eight years on from the Olympic Games, track and field returned to its rightful atmosphere of excitement and drama in Sydney. The crowd was abuzz with the performances delivered by Australia’s finest athletes, resulting in two A and nine B qualifiers for Beijing.

The historians were sent scurrying to the archives following the women’s 800m. Their task: to determine whether two Australians had ever run below two minutes in the same race before. Whilst not completely confirmed, historians believe the feat had never been achieved.

Tamsyn Lewis continued her fine form this season, holding off a strong run from fellow Victorian Madeleine Pape – 1:59.59 to 1:59.92. Both marks were Olympic A-qualifiers: Lewis’ fifth, but Pape’s first.

Lewis followed the pacemaker through a fast first lap of 58 seconds and passed through the 600m mark in 1:28, with Charlene Rendina’s 1976 record of 1:59.0 under threat. It was not to be on this occasion, but with Pape planning to challenge Lewis further and the gap between them constantly closing, it could fall at the Olympic selection trials in Brisbane in a fortnight.

“I love to race against Tamsyn,” said Pape, who became only the fifth Australian under the coveted two-minute barrier. “But she’s not the only one doing hard work out there.”

Lewis remarked that she was “not chasing times, but the final in Beijing.”

“It would be nice to have other girls around me,” Lewis said in reference to the upcoming world indoor titles in Spain,” she said.

Women’s Shot Put

The crowd was treated to a spectacular display in the women’s shot put, with world champion obliterating the meet record by over a metre, with a world class performance of 19.78m. World junior discus champion Dani Samuels improved her personal best in her secondary event with a throw of 16.30m.

Women’s Javelin

The crowd was captivated by the infield action in the women’s javelin. Kathryn Mitchell and Kimberley Mickle continued to improve on their quest for the A-qualifier of 60.50m, both recording B-qualifiers – Mitchell (58.07m) taking the lead in the fourth round and holding onto it despite a fifth round effort of 57.64m by Mickle.

Women’s Pole Vault

Queensland’s Alana Boyd had only four jumps in the women’s pole vault, which suffered from the windy conditions on the back straight. Her first attempt of the competition at 4.30m was cleared successfully and is her second B-qualifier for Beijing.

Other performances

Other quality performances were recorded by Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson in the 200m (23.44s), Kiwi Andrea Miller in the 100m Hurdles (13.30s), Commonwealth champion Bronwyn Thompson in the long jump (6.52m)

Attention now turns to the World Athletics Tour in Melbourne on Thursday night.

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