Vaulter Nina Kennedy has used one of Alana Boyd’s old poles to smash the two-time Commonwealth champion’s Australian record. On a night at the Sydney Track Classic where several of Australia’s leading female athletes excelled, Kennedy was the standout.
The 23-year-old powered over the bar at 4.82m at her first attempt on Saturday, adding 7cm to her personal best and consigning the five-year-old mark of 4.81m set by the now-retired Boyd to the history books.
“I’m just happy that it’s done and I got it tonight,” said Kennedy. “I’ve attempted it about five or six times this this season so to just nail it on my first attempt, I’m so happy.
“I’ve had my last two comps where I’ve jumped on new poles and it hasn’t quite worked so I actually used … Alana Boyd’s poles. So thanks Alana, here’s a shout-out.”
The height would have earned Kennedy the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medal, which went to New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney for her jump of 4.80m. Boyd also leapt 4.80m in the Rio final but placed fourth via the count-back system.
Four years after shooting to prominence as a 16-year-old running against Usain Bolt in the short-lived Nitro Series, Riley Day smashed her PB with an Olympic qualifier of 22.77s in the women’s 200m.
“I knew that I was running fast, I just needed some good conditions and I had a perfect 2.0 (metres per second tailwind),” said Day. “I couldn’t be more happy. I’ve had a lot of injuries and there has been some pressure on me, people saying that I’ve had my day and all I’ve wanted to do was prove them wrong and run for myself.”
Competing for the first time in 16 long months after recovering from spinal surgery, former world discus champion Dani Stevens (63.36m) made a winning return in Sydney.
Had the Tokyo Olympics taken place as scheduled in July last year, there’s no way Stevens would have been there.
But with Covid-19 pushing the Games back by 12 months, Stevens’ dream of finally winning an Olympic medal to go with her 2009 gold and 2017 silver at the world titles and back-to-back Commonwealth crowns remains very much alive.
“I have to keep it in perspective,” said Stevens. “This time last year was really, really hard; I’d just come out of surgery and couldn’t lift my arm.
“My priority was just to get function back [and see] if I could ever throw discus again, which I’m able to do now It’s made my realise how much I love it, how much I missed throwing, how much I missed competing.”
Two days after bettering the Olympic qualifying standard in her favoured 1500m in Canberra, in-form Linden Hall stepped down in distance to win the women’s 800m in 2:01.27.
Commonwealth champion Kurtis Marschall was an impressive victor of the men’s pole vault with 5.75m, while Matthew Ramsden and Jenny Blundell won the national 5000m titles. Para-athlete Michael Roeger stripped more than six seconds off his 5000m T46 world record with a time of 14:00.25.