Australian athletics has bolted out of the blocks at Trinbago 2023, winning two gold, three silver and three bronze on the first day of competition at the famed Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The first atop the podium was George Wells (NSW), with the men’s discus charge throwing 56.75m in the third round to win gold ahead of Hencu Lamberts (silver, 53.00m) of South Africa and Denzel Phillips (bronze, 47.77m) of Saint Lucia.
Wells was thrilled with the medal, but like many performance athletes aspired for a slightly bigger winning mark.
“It’s been a rollercoaster. I went into this without knowing what everyone was throwing, but I’ve come away with the gold and that’s the main thing,” Wells said.
“I wasn’t expecting the experience to be as it’s been, in a good way. I was expecting delays and other challenges with travel, but we’ve gone in quick, I’ve recovered well and was ready to throw today. I felt in control of the competition.”
“I was hoping to crack 60-metres if I’m honest, but you can’t come away with everything. That’s the next target.”
Not to be outdone in the women’s long jump was Delta Amidzovski (NSW), who soared with a Games record 6.34m (w: -0.4) to take victory ahead of hometown favourite Janae DeGannes (silver, 6.07m) and her green and gold teammate Grace Krause (bronze, 6.01m) of New South Wales.
Amidzovski was thrilled to come away with a personal best as she shifts her focus to her strongest event, the 100m hurdles.
“It was a PB, and I knew I had it in the bag. My training for this has paid off,” Amidzovski said.
“I can relax a bit now as I’ve my nerves out and am now really excited to see what I can do in the hurdles. I’ve runaround the Games record back home so I hope I can do that here.”
Para-athletics is also debuting here at Trinbago 2023, with the Australian contingent claiming the silver and bronze in both the men’s and women’s T38 100m for athletes with cerebral palsy.
The first to compete were Birmingham 2022 alumni Indi Cooper (NSW) and Akeesha Snowden (SA),with the duo crossing the line in 14.01 (w: +0.5) and 14.53 respectively.
They were followed by Ori Drabkin (VIC) and Jackson Love (NSW) in the men’s race, claiming second and third in 13.30 (w: +0.5) and 13.33 respectively.
Cooper dedicated the race to her grandfather after he passed away shortly prior to the Australian team staging camp in Sydney, with Drabkin thrilled by his personal best.
“I gave it my all to honour my Pa, he passed away just before the staging camp and this is all for him,” Cooper said.
“The heat has been a struggle, but other than that I couldn’t wish for anything more.”
“I turned around and looked at the scoreboard and was a little disappointed, but then I saw the time and thought you can’t get much better than that. You can’t ask for more than a PB,” Drabkin said.
Love was equally excited, and welcomed the chance to compete as part of a team that brings together able-bodied and para-athletes.
“The long wait killed me, but I’m stoked with a 0.2 personal best,” Love said.
“It’s so good to compete alongside the able-bodied athletes. We don’t get this opportunity beyond the Paralympics and to be here alongside everyone is just so nice.”
Xylavene Beale (NSW) rounds out the medallists, with a 16.31m throw to win silver in the women’s shot put behind new Games record holder Alicia Khunou (gold,17.97m) of South Africa.
“I’m as happy as I can be. I’m proud to win a medal, but the distance wasn’t quite there. It’s what I’ve thrown on the day,” Beale said.
“I’m having fun, but I’ve been a bit homesick if I’m honest. I’m learning here about managing nerves and that’s a good thing.”
At the pool, Zoe Ammundsen (QLD) added gold in the women’s 50m backstroke to the silver medal won across 100m yesterday.
The mixed 4x200m relay team of Inez Miller (WA), Mikalya Bird (NSW), Harvey Larke (VIC) and Jye Bennion (QLD) also hit the wall first, clocking 7:45.74 to finish first ahead of England (silver, 7:51.41) and Wales (bronze, 7:53.44).
Bennion spoke to the comradery of the swim team as a factor in delivering success.
“It’s good to get a team medal. It brings the enthusiasm among the group,” Bennion said.
“We all came into this team not knowing anyone, we were strangers, but we’ve grown together and are fast becoming a bit of a family. I feel like compared to the other countries we’ve gelled in a big way.”
Miller also won silver in the women’s 100m freestyle in a time of 55.59.
Australia also added to its cycling medal haul, with Keira Will (NSW) taking gold and Lauren Bates (ACT) silver in the women’s road race.
Bates broke away from the peloton shortly after the 10-kilometre mark, before Will joined her toward the back end of the race and became the eventual victor.
The green and gold duo went on to cross the line holding hands as their medals after 55-kilometres were split by a photo in 1:29:00.
They both now boast a gold and silver medal from Trinbago 2023, with Bates the winner of the time trial two days ago.
“That was great. I was happy Lauren was able to get away and sit with the bunch until I had my chance to join her. I had to get out by myself and help her and it was good to be able to do that. From there we just went hard together until the end,” Will said.
“Lauren and I are teammates, but also great friends. To think of when we were kids racing around New South Wales to now is pretty crazy.”
“I was worried about the strength of the field but had a plan and stuck to it. I probably didn’t intend to break away as early as I did, but the gap was there, and I took it,” Bates added.
On the pitch, the women’s rugby 7s team continued their unbeaten streak, taking down Wales 26-7 in the first match of their day, followed by a strong win over Kenya, 45-0.
They take on Fiji in their final pool match tomorrow morning, before medal matches take place later in the afternoon.