John Salvado / AAP News
Image: Athletics Australia
The first national track and field champions of 2022 have been crowned, with Rose Davies and Jack Rayner clinching the Australian 10,000m titles.
Jack Rayner has done it the hard way to finally win his first Australian 10,000m title at the seventh attempt.
Rayner, 26, and the battle-hardened and two-time Commonwealth Games representative David McNeill broke away from the leading pack in the closing stages of the race on a humid evening at Lakeside Stadium.
But it was the 26-year-old Rayner who finished the stronger, crossing the line in 28 minutes 16.86 seconds ahead of McNeill (28:22.08) and Liam Adams (28:46.35).
“It feels amazing,” said Rayner.
“It’s my seventh time doing the Zatopek (national 10,000m race), I’ve finished second a few times in the past and I did everything to finally get the win.
“Dave is a seasoned veteran so I knew he’d be very hard to shake.
“When I was looking up at the big screen and seeing he was just behind me I knew I just had to keep pushing until he had nothing left.”
Rayner had a disappointing time on his Olympic debut last year in Japan where he was forced to withdraw from the marathon due to a stress reaction in his femur.
His main target is the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games marathon.
In the women’s race, Rose Davies made a flying start to what is shaping as a year full of possibilities by winning a second straight national 10,000m title.
The 22-year-old from Newcastle kicked clear of evergreen Eloise Wellings to win in 32:58.45.
Davies made her Olympic debut last year in Tokyo, where she was eliminated in the 5000m heats.
Her plan is to better the tough qualifying standards for both the 5000m and 10,000m for the world championships in Oregon in July.
The Birmingham Commonwealth Games in early August are also firmly on the agenda.
“Whether I do both events or I get the times, I’m definitely aiming to do both,” she said.
“I really enjoy the 10K and getting the chance to relax into the race, whereas the 5K is a little more challenging.”
The 39-year-old Wellings was second in 33:00.87 and Izzi Batt-Doyle – who made her Olympic debut alongside Davies inn Tokyo – was third in 33:04.69.
With the biennial world championships pushed back a year due to COVID-19, many of Australia’s leading distance runners and multi-eventers will face a tough choice of whether to prioritise that event or the Commonwealth Games.
The opening ceremony in Birmingham on July 28 is only four days after the conclusion of the world track and field titles.
In other results from the Athletics Victoria meet , Australian 800m record holder Catriona Bisset made her season debut, clocking a swift 2:01.20 to kickstart a big year ahead.
The result puts her back on track nearing her Australian record after a heartbreaking campaign at the Olympics where she narrowly missed her chance to advance to the semi-finals.
“I mean it broke my heart – it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. I’m still processing it but it’s made me a tougher athlete. It really changed me as a person. I’m not just a runner anymore,” Bisset said.
“I’m planning on going to World Indoors in March, so I’m practicing holding onto my pace and this is a good start.”
Rising middle distance star, 16-year-old Claudia Hollingsworth took out the women’s 1500m title in 4:16.50 ahead of senior athletes Melissa Duncan and Holly Campbell.
Hollingworth’s result is her second World Under 20 Championship qualifier in a matter of days, and places her as the fastest of five other junior qualifiers in the event by almost seven seconds.
The Chemist Warehouse Summer Series will now travel to South Australia for the Adelaide Invitational on February 12, and the Oceania and Australian 20km Race Walking Championships on February 13.