Ella Connolly has secured the title of Australian sprint Queen, with a dominant display at the Sydney Track Classic on Saturday night.
In an ominous warning to fellow Australian female sprinters, Queensland’s Ella Connolly defied the odds to take a 100 meter and 400 meter double on Saturday night. Continuing the hot form she displayed at the Adelaide Invitational. Connolly ensured there is no doubt she will be the one to lead the sprint team to the World Championships and Commonwealth Games later in the year.
Kicking it off with the 100 meters, Connolly burst from the blocks, as has been the case all season. Her starts have constantly left her competitors all the work to do from the gun.
Her strength proved the difference yet again, as she comfortably accounted for Bree Masters, and Olympian Riley Day. The pair finished second and third respectively.
Connolly’s time of 11.37 is likely one she will quickly forget, after running her second 11.25 for the season last week at a QSAC event in Brisbane. Whilst the 11.25 is impressive, and puts her atop the Australian ranking table to this point, the magical automatic qualifying time of 11.15 is firmly within her sights.
In a further reflection of the form of Connolly this season, she backed up forty minutes later in the 400 metres.
As she did in the 100 metre event, she exploded from the blocks. Entering the back straight she had already eaten up the stagger from her outside opponent. On the final bend, She had taken over the lead and it looked only a matter of by how much distance she would win by.
Expectedly tiring in the last 20 metres, she maintained her form to win by over 10 metres. Her time is an Australian season-best and personal best of 52.21.
The time shooting her to the top of the 400 metre rankings for 2022, surpassing Olympian Bendere Oboya.
Her time made more impressive given she didn’t want to run the event. Connolly told former Olympian Tamsyn Manou after the race “It wasn’t my choice to run the 400 meters tonight it was Mark’s,” referring to her coach Mark Ladbrook. “He said I need to get stronger and hopefully it will help me for the rest of the season.”
The double comes a week after running another personal and Australian seasons best of 22.95 in the 200 meters. The time just pipping Day’s 22.99 run at the Adelaide Invitational in February. The treble setting up what looks to be a cracking showdown for female sprinters later in the season.
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Thomas and Davies take the titles
The feature event for the evening belonged to the men’s and women’s 3000 meters. The event doubling as the Australia Championships for the distance.
Continuing with her rich vein of form, Rose Davies secured her second Australia Championship for the year. Running a patient race that started very slow and physical. Davies making her moves at the right time to run away a comfortable winner. Runner up Natalie Rule, the only one to give a yelp, as she did everything she could to close the gap in the final 200 meters.
There was no waiting around in the men’s event, with the first fourteen competitors all finishing in under eight minutes. In a display of the strong position Australian men’s middle-distance running is in, it was Queensland young gun Jude Thomas who got the chocolates. Making a brave move 300 meters from home, Thomas rounded the pack to join leader Sam McEntee.
McEntee, fresh off his Adelaide Invitational 5000 meter win, unable to muster the same sprint finish. Thomas stretched to the line from a fast-finishing Cameron Griffiths, with only 0.04 of a second separating them. The victory was sweet for Thomas after finishing runner up in the same event last year.
Defending champion, Stewart McSweyn, was unable to attend as he fights his battle with long COVID-19 effects. McSweyn recovering at home on King Island, also withdrawing from the Australian World Indoor team last week.
Convert Oboya reaping rewards of change
In her second win in as many major meets, 400 meter convert Bendere Oboya added further support to her decision with a strong 800 metre display. Using her shorter distance prowess, she leapt out to sit behind the professional pacer, with a large gap to the chasing bunch.
Oboya maintained the large lead with 250 meters to go. Finally, seasoned 800 meter runners in Claudia Hollingsworth and Tess Kirsopp-Cole started to close the gap. Entering the final straight, it looked as if Oboya was going fall away, much like her performance in Adelaide. That wasn’t the case however, finding one last kick, Oboya stretched back out the lead to win by a few strides.
It was yet again the crowd favourite Peter Bol in the men’s 800 meters. Sitting on the heels of the pacer for the first 500 meters, Bol looked comfortable at the front of the pack. As the pacer left the track, Bol maintained his rhythm to the final bend. The only challenges coming from visiting New Zealand and Japanese athletes.
The race ultimately was a bit of a letdown after such a large build-up.
Touted as a battle between Bol and fellow African born up and comer Joseph Deng. Deng never looking in the race, as he sat at the tail of the field throughout, before finishing finishing seventh. A performance Deng is unlikely to replicate over the coming weeks.
Full results available from Athletics Australia
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