The Perth track is renowned for its fast sprints, hurdles and jumps performances, but at Saturday nights’ 2019 Jandakot Airport Track Classic, a middle-distance event claims top-billing.
After a stint running indoors overseas, where he gathered another national record, Joseph Deng is ready to race in the VenuesWest men’s 800m at the Jandakot Airport Track Classic. Recently in Birmingham, he added the Australian indoor record to his collection which includes the outdoor record set in 2018.
However, he starts equal favourite with Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Luke Mathews, making his half-mile seasonal debut. No more than one step behind is Deng’s training partner, under coach Justin Rinaldi, Rio Olympian Peter Bol. With a PB of 1:44.56 and a win over Deng in the 600m in January, he is a major threat. Melbourne-based Kiwi, Brad Mathas, who was fifth at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, is fresh from a national title winning performance in Christchurch last weekend.
Another Commonwealth Games competitor, Sydney’s Joshua Ralph is in good form following a 47.27 400m last Sunday. The fastest domestically in Australia this summer is Jye Perrott, 20, and is one to watch as he is on the improve.
Melbourne’s Brooke Stratton will be hoping to duplicate her performance of three years ago at this meet, when she broke the Australian women’s long jump record. In three terrific competitions in 2019, she has just held off Commonwealth Games team mate Naa Anang, as both pursue a world championships qualifier of 6.72m. The reason for Naa’s great form was revealed at the Queensland Championships on Saturday when she clocked 11.43 in the 100m to take the national lead in her secondary event. The extra speed is undoubtedly helping her on the long jump runway.
The men’s 200m sees the season debut of Rohan Browning in what is believed to be his best distance, despite finishing the Commonwealth Games as the highest ranked Aussie in the 100m and missing the final by less than 0.01 seconds. However, Australia’s premier 200m athlete for the last few years, Alex Hartmann has also hit top form at the right time. He won the Queensland sprint double last weekend, where he raced five times and recorded qualify bests of 10.35 (100m) and 20.44 wind assisted (200m).
The men’s 110m hurdles is shaping up as an event on the move in Australia. On Sunday in Sydney, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Nick Hough had to work hard over the later part of the race to take the NSW title in 13.76. He was battling two Mick Zisti-coached athletes who are continuing to make significant progression this summer. A former school mate of Hough’s from The Kings’ Schools, Nick Andrews has returned to the hurdles after sprinting for two years. He has brought his PB down from 14.30 to 13.79, now the 12th fastest in Australian history. Jacob McCorry similarly has gone from 14.02 to 13.82. The three athletes are top-15 Australian all-time.
Locals are familiar with great pole vaulting and all the action will be centered around Perth-based athletes. In the women’s Commonwealth Games medallists Nina Kennedy makes her season debut. In the men’s Angus Armstrong and Declan Carruthers have traded wins this summer.
One to watch will be 16-year-old Sasha Zhoya. In France recently he vaulted 5.32m indoors and will have the Australian under-18 record of 5.35m, held by his coach Paul Burgess, on his radar.
Melbourne-based WA distance star, Matt Ramsden will be welcomed home to race in the Herb Elliott mile, but despite winning the Australian and Victorian mile titles this year, he will need to be at his very best to hold off Rorey Hunter, who was second in the Sydney Track Classic 1500m and last weekend in New Zealand clocked an impressive 3:57.45 mile.
Others to watch are:
• Jack Hale in the 100m. His now three-year-old PB of 10.21 is destined to go very soon. Last time he raced in Perth he recorded a windy 10.12.
• Queensland’s Matt Denny in the open discus is in top form, confirmed by his two 64 metre throws already this summer. The fifth longest discus thrower in Australian history is just over a metre from his PB.
• After her medal winning performance on the Gold Coast in 2018, Commonwealth Games bronze medal high jumper Nicola McDermott last month in Canberra leapt 1.94m (6 foot 3.5 inches) to become the sixth highest in Australian history. She will looking for another world championships qualifier.
• Tasmania’s Hamish Peacock, a Rio Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games medallists, is compiling an impressive international record in the javelin. After starting his career with a silver at the World Youth and fifth at the World Juniors, he has gone on to compete at three consecutive world championships, where he has improved at every appearance. He lines up in Perth against qualify competition including Liam O’Brien (79m this year) and Cruz Hogan (77m in 2018).
• Australia’s current fastest half-miler, Georgia Griffith is back in form indicated by her strong win at the Sydney Track Classic and should take the women’s 800m. The race will be an opportunity for Olympian Morgan Mitchell to make further progression in her new event.
• Also watch Sarah Edmiston (F44 discus) chase more Para-Athletics World Championships qualifiers, Perth’s Commonwealth Games hurdlers Ian Dewhurst (400m hurdles) and Brianna Beahan (100m hurdles) win their specialties, a high standard men’s long jump competition and local Grant Szalek start favourite in the high jump.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia