T46 Athlete Michael Roeger after smashing the T46 5000m record on Saturday night. (Picture Athletic Australia)

Crowds flocked to the SA Athletics Stadium on Saturday night in a positive sign for Australian Athletics leading into a massive 10 years.

Crowds flocked to the SA Athletics Stadium on Saturday night in a positive sign for Australian Athletics leading into a massive 10 years.

With a decade full of home Commonwealth and Olympic games on athletes radars, onlookers were rewarded for their support. The night filled with some of the best track and field competition Australia has ever produced in a single event.

Smashing world records

The performance of the night come in the final event, the men’s 5000m, but not from the first man to cross the line. It was the run of T46 athlete Michael Roeger, the Tokyo Paralympic Marathon favourite, who’s leg stress fracture saw him finish sixth after an interrupted preparation.

In a sign of being back to full health, Roeger smashed the T46 5000m record in a phenomenal display. His time of 13:52.05 obliterating the previous mark of 14:20.88, set by Abraham Cheruiyot Tarbei at Beijing in 2008.

Roeger who was visibly devastated after his race in Tokyo, telling trackside commentator Tamsin Manou, “I’ve only just started to get my head right and find my mojo again from Tokyo.” Honouring his home crowd for their support, “This gives me chills.”

Roeger, whose main event isn’t even the 5000m, will continue his focus on the Australian track and road racing seasons, with his next marathon in April at Boston. Given his performance, he will no doubt show everyone what Tokyo could have been with the right preparation.

Michael Roeger speaks with Tamsin Manou after breaking the T46 5000m record

Coach change paying dividends

Sam McEntee was the first man across the line in the 5000m. In an impressive display, McEntee sat patiently throughout the race before starting his run with 200m to go. His sprint to the finish, too much for his rivals to contend with after such a gruelling effort.

McEntee, who ran the 5000m at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, recently returned to Australia’s elite training group in the Melbourne Track Club. Indicating the change has been rewarding, with stronger performances across the summer.

In the women’s 5000m, local Izzy Batt-Doyle and Rose Davies of NSW, saw their chance to put a time on the board early in the season. They battled it out for a number of laps, well ahead of the chasing pack, before Batt-Doyle made her move.

With two and a half laps to go, she put a gap on Davies, which continued to grow. Eyeing the world championship automatic qualifying time of 15:10.00, she pushed herself all the way to the end. Her final time of 15:13.35, falling just short of the magic mark. Davies also finishing strongly, nine seconds adrift.

Izzy Batt-Doyle searches for the line in the Women’s 5000m (Picture Athletics Australia)

Queensland women a cut above

It wasn’t just the distance events that had the crowds drooling, with the 100m and 200m events both fielding the best sprinters Australia has seen at a single meet in some time. The races packed with top talent such as Tokyo 100m superstar Rohan Browning and 200m flyer Riley Day.

Taking their chance as first sprint event, the women put on a nail biter. In what was the fastest all Australian female 100m field in history, Queensland’s Ella Connolly took full advantage of the start. Jumping from the blocks the best of the bunch, Connolly used everything she had to hold out Riley Day. Day’s 200m strength shining as she closed hard at the line.

Split by just 0.11 seconds, you could throw a blanket over the first four. Junior sprint sensation Torrie Lewis taking third with Bree Masters fourth. The quartet, all from Queensland, sending an ominous warning to rival states for the 4 x 100m relay come Australian Championships later in the season.

The Women’s 100m at the Adelaide Invitational

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The ‘Flying Mullet’ breezes through

In the men’s, another cracking race saw eight of the nine competitors break the 10.40 second mark. Browning, sporting his ‘Flying Mullet’, showed he hasn’t lost anything since Tokyo, charging out of the blocks. New Zealander, Edward Osei-Nketia visibly trying to chase him down, was unable to close the gap.

Browning’s time, a solid 10.12 for this early in the season, after focusing on shorter events with his upcoming 60m at the World Indoor Championships.

Speaking with Manou post race, he reflected on how special his performance at Tokyo had been. One of the highlights, having the great Bruce McAvaney call his race.

“It was so special having Bruce of all people call that race. I don’t know how many times I’ve watch him call Cathy Freeman’s run down the home straight. That made it a lot more special,” he said.

Rohan Browning wins his heat the the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in a blistering 10.01 seconds.

The future is bright

A battle of the young guns was the story in the men’s 200m. After an impressive beggining to the season, Jake Doran carried his form in with a brilliant start. Evaporating the stagger almost instantly, he took a two meter lead over 18 year old up-and-comer Aidan Murphy as the track straightened.

Murphy, displaying why he will be a force to be reckoned with in coming years, gritted his teeth and got moving.

Closing the gap to Doran, he ran away over the last 50m to win comfortable in a sensational 20.66. The time well inside the U/20 World Championships qualifying mark, signally his intentions for the mid year event.

Reinforcing her dominance at the distance, Riley Day got one back on Ella Connolly in the women’s 200m. Giving them both something to chase, Torrie Lewis exploded from the blocks to eat away the stagger by mid bend.

Day mustering speed as the track straightened, stretched away in a blistering 22.99. Connolly sneaking back past Lewis to take second.

Day’s time a solid stepping stone in what will be a big year, with the impending Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

Selfies with the fans

Crowd favourite Peter Bol greeted the judges in the 800m. In his first true competitive hit out since Tokyo, Bol was content to relax towards the front of the pack.

Doing only what he needed to over the final 100m to take the victory. The highlight, his post race selfie extravaganza, as his fans flocked to the fence for an opportunity to chat with the Tokyo sensation.

The women’s 800m saw a photo finish between Bendere Oboya and Tess Kirsopp-Cole. Oboya, who competed in the 400m at Tokyo, converting to the double lap after identifying her strengths following the games. Coming up trumps in the photo, the win giving Oboya a solid building block to work on for future 800m races.

Other results saw Julian Konle 16.22m and Desliegh Owusu 12.78m take out the men’s and women’s triple jump. Ben Buckingham and Cara Feain-Ryan proved too strong in their respective 3000m steeplechases. Whilst local Darcy Miller spun his way to victory in the discus, with fellow local Courtney Smallacombe setting the bar high in the pole vault.

Full results available at Athletics Australia.

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