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The strong track and field performance at these Games continued on day seven of the Games with five medals.
By David Tarbotton and Deanna Yourell
On the strength of his good competitive record, 20-year-old Kurtis Marschall started favourite for the pole vault despite the line-up including Shawn Barber 2015 world champion. In a see-sawing competition, Marschall was always in a good position, responding to the pressure of Barber.
Tied with Barber on countback at 5.65m, Marschall had one jump left to secure the win outright, and he did on his third attempt at 5.70m.
“I’ve never been in that situation before (third attempt) when going for gold. I’ve learnt from past mistakes and I knew how to do it, so I just executed the processes and kept a cool head and I’m glad it worked.”
He certainly was a crowd favourite.
“Everyone was telling me the crowd was unreal and I didn’t believe it. Then I came out, first jump, opening height and I couldn’t even hear myself think.”
Another favourite Dani Stevens, lived up to expectations, with a commanding performance in the women’s discus. Winning by nearly eight metres in a Games record of 68.26m, Stevens recorded her third best throw of her career and the best on home soil.
She was motivated by the performances of her team mates.
“It was really emotional seeing Kathryn MITCHELL (AUS), and Kelsey-Lee ROBERTS (AUS) do so well, and especially Brandon STARC (AUS), I know how hard he has worked and it was truly amazing to see him win gold for the country,” she said.
Her coach, Denis Knowles, gave her key technical feedback.
“My coach, said: ‘you haven’t hit one yet so just open up and go for it”. The result was a three-metre improvement and a Games record.
“The Games record was definitely on my mind. I wanted to snag that one.”
Brooke Stratton had an emotional silver medal finish in the women’s long jump with a final jump measuring 6.77m.
“I didn’t know that I was actually going to be here towards the end of last year after my foot injury so even though I won the silver medal it feels like gold to me,” she said.
Stratton was 0.07m behind the gold medal jump but performed well to improve as the night went on.
Sadly, the rest of the Aussie contingent did not make it to an extra three jumps with Naa Anang taking out ninth place after fouling her first two jumps and Lauren Wells finishing 11th.
“I am so proud of these girls (Wells and Anang) as they did so well for Australia,” Stratton said.
Youngster, Rhiannon Clarke, ran one of the biggest races of her young career on Thursday night and took home a silver medal. Clocking an impressive 13.17 seconds in the T38 100m event, setting a national record.
“It is such a surprise that I ran my personal best (13.17s) and an Australian record. I am just so stoked the crowd was pushing me along, it was amazing. I didn’t want to stop, I just wanted to keep running,” she said.
Fellow para-athletes Ella Pardy and Erin Cleaver finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with Pardy running her season’s best at 13.48sec.
An unexpected medal was claimed by Luke Mathews in the men’s 800m, our first podium for 16 years. In an extraordinary race where the medal position constantly changed, Luke Mathews charged home to come from a very unlikely place to nab the bronze. His time of 1:45.60 was the second fastest ever by an Australian at the Games.
The morning session included a very high quality women’s 800m heats. The three Aussies accounted very well for themselves, with two clocking personal bests, but unfortunately all just missed qualification for the final. Georgia Griffith, clocked 2:00.73, while 16-year-old Keely Small re-wrote the record books. She clocked 2:00.81, smashing the Australia under-20 and 18 records. It was the fastest time by an under-18 in the world for five years.