Steve Larkin / AAP News
The Athletics Australia stars kick off their massive 2022 campaigns with victories as they set sights on Birmingham Games.
Australia’s new athletics torchbearers Rohan Browning and Peter Bol say it’s only just sinking in.
The duo both opened their seasons with victories in their pet events at the Adelaide International on Saturday night.
Browning won his 100 metres and Bol triumphed in the 800m.
Their wins were expected.
Their raucous receptions from about 3000 people – the largest crowd an an Adelaide athletics meet in decades – weren’t.
“I have never had an experience like that before,” Browning told AAP.
“Being swarmed by kids is just unbelievable.
“It definitely warms your heart because when you’re in the trenches day-to-day, you don’t think about the impact it’s having beyond – you’re sort of developing your own career for selfish reasons.”
After their success at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, both Browning and Bol are adjusting to new-found fame.
Browning opened his domestic season on Saturday night by clocking 10.12 seconds to win from New Zealander Edward Osei-Nketia (10.19s) and Tasmanian Jack Hale (10.26s).
The 24-year-old said reaching the semi-finals at the Olympics had changed his life – a sentiment Bol, whose finished fourth in the Olympic 800m final, related to.
“For sure, it has changed so much,” Bol told AAP after winning the 800m in one minute 47.14 seconds from Jack Lunn (1:47.43).
“Just to have that support for athletics, it’s unreal, it’s awesome … look at the crowd.”
Bol and Browning were both mobbed by Adelaide fans, signing autographs and posing for photos until dragged away by stewards.
“I really enjoy it,” Browning said.
“And any attention that can be brought to the sport is a good thing because I know how hard all the others train across all the events – it’s not the easiest of sports.”
Both Browning and Bol were basking in their popularity, adamant their new-found fame won’t weigh them down in year highlighted by the world championships and the Commonwealth Games.
“The goal is to … come back with medals,” Bol said.
Others to chalk wins in their starts to the domestic season on Saturday night included national 400m champion Bendere Oboya, who triumphed in her first competitive 800m race.
Oboya (2:02.88) pipped Tess Kirsopp-Cole by 0.01 seconds.
“At least I have got a PB (personal best) to my name now,” Oboya told AAP.
“I liked it. I have to learn how long to hold my kick for, but it was good.”
In the women’s 100m, Ella Connolly (11.37s) shaded Riley Day (11.40s) – but Day reversed that result in the 200m, clocking 22.99s to win from Connolly (23.18s).
South Australian Aidan Murphy (20.66s) won the men’s 200m from Jake Doran (20.91s).