Relay, U20 and senior track titles on final day of Nationals for Wellington athletes
By Dave Crampton
Wellington athletes managed national senior titles in track events on the last day of the Jennian Homes National Track and Field championships at Hamilton’s Porritt Stadium, with the yellow singlets holding the top two places in the senior men’s 1500m.
It was one-two for Wellington in the senior men’s 1500m with top qualifier James Preston leading at the bell with Olympian Hamish Carson working his way through the field, using his experience to outsprint Preston in the home straight.
Carson, recently back from the World Indoor championships and not yet over his jetlag, clocked 3min 52.32 sec for his 6th 1500m title with Preston clocking 3min 53.03 sec.
Carson wasn’t fussed on his time, all he wanted to do was to hang back and outsprint the field for his sixth title.
“Time means nothing in a championship - I always want to use the tactics that are going to maximise my chances of success,” he said.
“I just wanted to win (and) it was good to have a Wellington one-two.”
In the U20 event, Max Karamanolis was leading at the bell, but wasn’t able to hold on after a very fast final lap and finished down the field. Kirstie Rae was second in her U18 event, leading for most of it, heading the trio breakaway group after the bell but the lead changed with 200m to go and Rae couldn’t regain it, stopping the clock at 4min 39.92 sec.
Para-athlete Libby Leikis continued on her record-breaking way, with her third New Zealand record, this time in the 200m, clocking 32.26 – a 0.30 sec pb. She was the sole Wellington athlete to get three medals – one of each colour - although javelin throwers Cam and Tim Robertson also got three between them, also one of each colour.
“I’m just so happy that I got that 200m record – I`ve had that record for over a year and a half,” Leikis said. “It was a real good race – I could feel Anna’s breath behind me.”
Aucklander Anna Steven, in the T64 category, also clocked 32.36, but had a higher para-points percentage for silver.
Jacqueline Wilson was disqualified in the 20k race walk for the first time in as many years as most current athletes have been living, and Matthew Rogers was second in the 3000m steeple chase, as was Daniel du Toit in the U20 10k race walk.
There were medals in the 200m also, with Isaac Oliver, in his first athletics season, picking up a bronze medal in the U18 event. In the senior men’s 200m Alex Haye followed his 400m win with a third placing, clocking 22.02 sec, and in the U20 event it was a win for Wellington with Cody Wilson clocking 22.31 sec, just outside his pb, after coming forth last year in the U18 event.
“I came hoping to medal – it’s pretty good – but the Wellington Secondary Schools is my main focus for the year,” he said.
The 800m event was a top event for Wellington last year – like the 400m events this year - but Tessa Hunt was out with injury in an U20 even she surely would have won, after winning the U18 event last year. Maia Ramsden picked up a silver this year in the U18 event, with last year’s U20 winner Kelsey Forman fourth in the senior women’s event after easily winning the 3000m steeplechase earlier in the day.
Last year the 4x 400 male U18 relay were clear winners but were disqualified - this year the U20 team came up triumphant. Individual medallists Rowan Blaikie ( U20 400m), Mikael Starzinski (U18 400m) and Max Spencer ( U20 800m) were joined by Josh Nairne for the win and a sea of yellow on top of the podium after Starzkinski took the lead with a blistering burst down the back straight on the third leg, with Spencer holding on down the home straight for the win.
While the senior men did not enter a team – they surely would have won, given their top three cleaned out the senior men’s 400m the previous day – Wellington did enter a senior women’s team, but if Auckland and the other teams entered its top triple jumper, U20 high jumper, and steeplechaser in its event like Wellington did, Wellington would have won easily.