Sprint stars defy tricky conditions

John Salvado / AAP News


Rising star Ella Connolly has made a flying start to her bid for a prestigious sprint double at the Australian track and field championships.

Rising star Ella Connolly has defied difficult conditions to make a flying start to her bid for a prestigious sprint double at the Australian track and field championships.

The 21-year-old dominated her 100m heat on a cold, windy Thursday evening at Sydney Olympic Park athletics centre, stopping the clock at 11.38 seconds.

Fellow Queenslander Bree Masters recorded the fastest opening-round time of 11.31, although it came with the aid of an illegal tailwind.

Teenager Taylah Cruttenden, who took silver in the Under-20 100m earlier in the championships, won her heat (11.75), as did New Zealander Zoe Hobbs (11.32).

But defending champion and Tokyo Olympian Hana Basic narrowly failed to advance to the semi-finals.

Connolly is bidding for the 100m-200m double in Sydney, having also toyed with the possibility of contesting the 400m.

“No one really likes to run a 400 so it wasn’t a tough decison for me,” said Connolly.

“It is cold, but the rain held off which is nice.

“It was unusual conditions with a tailwind.”

Gold Coast team member and Tokyo Olympian Riley Day is among the group given exemptions by Athletics Australia to skip the national titles, as is leading men’s 100m hope Rohan Browning, who went so close to breaking the 10-second barrier at last year’s Tokyo Games.

Josh Azzopardi took advantage of a howling tailwind of 4.4m to clock the fastest men’s 100m heat time of 10.19.

The semi-finals and finals of both blue-riband sprints will take place on Friday evening.

National record holder Catriona Bisset dominated the opening round of the women’s 800m with the fastest time of two minutes 03.21 seconds.

Teenager Claudia Hollingsworth was an impressive winner of the other heat in 2:06.30, but Bendere Oboya just missed out on a berth in the final.

Olympic finalist Peter Bol wasted little energy in cruising into Saturday’s men’s 800m final by winning his heat in 1:54.01.

In her first competitive 3000m steeplechase since the Tokyo Olympics, Amy Cashin won the national title in a slick 9:37.92, while her brother Liam was third in the corresponding men’s race won by Matthew Clarke in 8:32.67.

In other Thursday action, multiple national champion Alex Beck eased into the men’s 400m final in 47.74.

Callum Rorison had the fastest semi-final time of 47.27.

Spots in the Australian squads for the world championships in Eugene, Oregon in July and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games are up for grabs this weekend.



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