Kennedy’s Bronze in Classy Comp: Friday Day 6: Evening Session


This article originally appeared on – home of Athletics Australia:

Women’s Pole Vault

Nina Kennedy has won bronze in the women’s pole vault at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast with an outstanding performance against a world-class field.

The 21-year-old scaled 4.60m in a high-pressure competition to finish third behind Alysha Newman of Canada (4.75m) and Eliza McCartney from New Zealand (4.70m).

The calibre of competition was impressive as both the Canadian and New Zealander were finalists at London World Championship in 2017 while the Kiwi won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

Earlier, Kennedy, coached by vault guru Alex Parnov, had cleared each height from her 4.30m opener through to 4.60m on her initial attempts. Ultimately those first-time clearances made a medal-winning difference as the bronze was decided on a countback with Holly Bradshaw(England).

 The Englishwoman, a two-time world finalist, had a clean slate through to 4.60m but needed two attempts at that height. Moving to 4.65m both women struck out three times sending the Australian on her way to the podium.

 Newman’s gold medal-winning performance was also a new Canadian record and a new Games record eclipsing Australian Kym Howe’s mark of 4.62m set in Melbourne in 2006.

 Kennedy’s silverware continued the tradition of Australians winning a medal in every competition since Emma George won in 1998 when women’s pole vault debuted at the Games. In fact, before the Canadian’s victory, an Australian topped the podium at every edition.

 Kennedy has battled injuries and was disillusioned with the sport following an outstanding junior career, but stuck with it. And the result was outstanding.

 “That was everything I dreamed of – it was amazing,” said Kenedy,

“Coming into this competition I was ranked fourth (in the Commonwealth). It is such a high standard of this year, and I was happy to be part of it.

“Tonight the crowd was so uplifting that my run-up was a bit off. I was thinking just run properly, run properly.”

“I had to be focused for this competition. Normally I’m not like that, but I had a job today and I just went and did it.”

Fellow-West Australian Liz Parnov was fifth with a best vault of 4.40m, While teammate Lisa Campbell bowed out with three misses at 4.15m to record 4.00m as her best effort of the day.

Women’s 100m hurdles

With two Australians to cheer for, an enthusiastic crowd did their utmost to provide Brianna Beahan (WA) and Michelle Jenneke (NSW) a substantial home-crowd advantage, as the hurdling duo lined up against the best of Jamaican, English and Nigerian hurdling talent.

Jenneke started strongly, level with the front of the field through 40 metres. Progressing through the middle portion of the race she appeared in contention for a minor medal.

The 24-year old threw down a clean technical race, as all ten hurdles remained untouched, finishing fourth (13.07, +0.2), one-tenth of a second behind third-placed Yanique Thompson (JAM) (12.97)Jenneke improved on a fifth-place finish in Glasgow (13.36sec), exhibiting technical composure in a race where fourth to seventh were separated by 0.11sec.

“I left it all out there on the track, and you can’t be too disappointed with that,” said Jenneke.

“I just got way too close to the hurdles. While that adrenalin is amazing, it can really push me forward into the hurdles.”

“It’s disappointing, as it’s not something I’ve experienced in many of my races, getting that close, because you don’t usually get an atmosphere like this one!”

Beahan exhibited a determined final thirty metres, looking to draw level with Jenneke whilst edging past World Championship medalist Tiffany Porter (ENG), racing to a fifth-place finish of 13.11 in a Commonwealth Games debut.

“I came home strong, which I’m happy with, but yeah I’m disappointed”

“I’m going to learn so much from this race, I think I handled distractions a lot better than I thought I would, I was a lot more composed for this race, but I just didn’t execute the start, and now I know that’s something I’ll have to work on more than I have been”. 

Team co-captain Sally Pearson had provided Beahan with guidance and encouragement in the lead-up and throughout the Games.

“I think Sally will be proud, the fact she’s been out here and done what’s she’s done for me, no words can describe how grateful and thankful I am for what she’s done.”

“Not having my coach here is hard, and the fact that she’s taken that time to do what she’s done.I hope she’s proud!’

Nigeria’s Oluwatobiloba Amusan took gold in 12.68, missing the Games Record by three hundredths, while Jamaica’s Danielle Williams claimed silver in 12.78. 

Men’s Discus Throw

Matt Denny was the best of an Australian trio in the men’s discus as he finished fourth to cap an impressive showing in his first Commonwealth Games. The 20-year-old, who won silver in the men’s hammer earlier in the program, had a best effort of 62.53m with his third round throw.

Mitch Cooper and Benn Harradine were fifth and sixth respectively with Cooper saving his best for last, reaching 60.40m.

Harradine, the 2010 Commonwealth champion, made his last appearance for Australia. While he did not quite hit his straps in this competition (he placed sixth with 59.92m), he was satisfied with his overall effort as he reflected on a marvellous career bookended by major international competitions on home soil.

“I started it all in Oz and here I am again’” referring to his Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games debut and quipped “I spend my life in circles” 

Harradine then confirmed his retirement “This will be my last championships and I am proud to say that. I am proud to have done it here with Australia behind us. With family and friends all supporting me.”

“I could not have asked for a more enjoyable career. I’ve made so many memories. I’ve spent a lot of time with my dad. I’ve done a lot of crazy things with him and just enjoyed the journey. Those things I will miss the most.”

Referring to the future of the event he said “I’m happy that discus is in a good place with some big bombs coming from a couple of youngsters. I am hoping in some way, along some line, I will be able to help them and influence discus in a positive way for Australia.” 

Jamaican Fedrick Dacres confirmed his status as the red-hot favourite with a commanding performance to win gold with a new Games record of 68.20m. The three-time Jamaican champion’s series was impressive as each of his six throws was further than the silver medallist, compatriot Traves Smikle (63.98m). Apostolos Parellis from Cyprus was third with 63.61m.

Women’s Heptathlon

Celeste Mucci (Vic) as finished fourth and Alysha Burnett (NSW) ninth in the women’s heptathlon.

Mucci’s final score of 5915 pts surpassed her previous personal standard set at the NSW Championships in December 2017 by 45 pts.

Coming into the seventh and final event tonight, the 800m, Mucci was in third place, 109 pts ahead of Niamh Emerson (England). The Australian needed to finish within 9 seconds of Emerson but from the gun, Emerson took off and strode away to cross the line first securing the bronze medal.

An injury-affected Burnett finished sixth with 2:43.14, a brave run considering the Grade 1 hamstring tear incurred in the 200m the previous evening. Burnett’s final score was 5628pts.

England’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson won her first Commonwealth title with 6255pts with Canada’s Nina Schultz second with a personal best 6133pts.

Men’s 10000m

On a balmy Gold Coast evening, Patrick Tiernan (QLD) and Stewart McSweyn (TAS) lined up in a world class 10,000 metre field, standing shoulder to shoulder with World Championship and Olympic medalists, a testing journey ahead for the pair.

An often misunderstood event, the 10,000 metres provides 25-laps of drama for many purists, as the war of attrition demonstrates any unpreparedness in an athlete’s lead-up training, or as witnessed tonight, provides a stage for a proud Kenyan team to do their utmost to dethrone a Ugandan champion.

Returning from a 5000m win earlier in the week, Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) is one of long distance runnings eminent superstars, challenging the likes of Mo Farah and Geoffrey Kamworor on the global stage recently.

Kenya’s Jonothan Ndiku asked questions early in the race, setting an undulating pace that ranged from 64 to 68-second laps, passing through 3000m in 8:19.50, following an opening kilometre of 2:43.10.

McSweyn and Tiernan began to feel the strain of subtle to dramatic pace changes nearing the 5000m mark, losing contact as the front group moved past halfway in 13:53.50, as Rodgers Kwemoi (KEN) continued to employ team tactics.

Striking fear into the hearts of competitors, whilst encouraging distance running fans to move to the edge of seats, Cheptegei found himself at the front of the field with 4000 metres remaining. 

With a wry smile, the spritely Ugandan took one look at the big screen, pondered for a lap, then clicked off a 64-second circuit to test the field, bringing Jake Robertson (NZ) to the lead for a brief stint.

The race exploded with one kilometre remaining, as Rio Olympic fourth-place finisher Mohammed Ahmed (CAN) made his break for gold.

A penultimate lap of 61 seconds did little to unsettle Cheptegei, tearing off the final lap in 56.7 seconds, taking gold in a Games Record of 27:19.62, as Ahmed took silver (27:20.56), with Kwemoi hanging on for bronze (27:28.66).

 IAAF statistician Jon Mulkeen astutely observed that Cheptegei’s final kilometre of 2:26.32 was faster than Farah’s final kilometre in the 10,000m at the 2011, 2015 & 2017 World Champs and 2012 & 2016 Olympics, a truly world-class performance for the Carrara Stadium crowd.

McSweyn laboured through a difficult evening on the track, one sure to add to the debutant’s international experience, a time of 28:58.22 placing the Tasmanian 12th.

Tiernan was initially listed in 10th, finishing in 28:41.16, helped from the track in a wheelchair, the humble Australian waited trackside for the final athlete to finish, sharing a handshake with Lesotho’s Toka Badboy. Tiernan was later disqualified for a lane infraction.

The third-ranked Australian over the 10,000m distance, Tiernan was dismayed post-race, “It would’ve been nice to come out here and run well. If I’d been up there I could’ve had a run at the Aussie record, which is something I think I can do.” 

“It’s not a par effort for a home Games, in an event where I know I can run with those top guys up until at least the last lap. I’ve got a lot of things to go home and work on, Tokyo’s only two years away, that’s a lot of time, and I know I can do it, I’ve just got to figure out what the problem is”.

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

James Nipperess (NSW) entered the stadium well aware of the colossal task at hand, as a stellar international field set off at 8:04 pace through the first kilometre.

Whilst a few of Kenya’s biggest stars have passed on the Commonwealth Games, the steeplechase is an event the nation of 48 million hold dear to their hearts, historically dominant over the barriers.
Thus the presence of Conseslus Kipruto, Abraham Kibiwott and Amos Kirui asserted Kenya’s agenda immediately, this was a clean sweep attempt, led by Kipruto, a title winner at World Championship Youth, Junior and Open levels, including an Olympic title.

Kipruto’s search for the final piece of his medal cabinet was a success, in an incredible show of ability, Kipruto made a devastating move at the bell, forcing the pace again with 200 metres remaining whilst checking over his shoulder. The 23-year old steeplechase colossus conversationally urged his trailing teammate Kibiwott along to silver (8:10.62), whilst setting a Games Record and enthusiastically gesturing to the crowd for the final 50 metres (8:10.08).

Kipruto’s time was the best ever 3000m steeplechase on Australian soil.

Canada’s Matt Hughes finished fourth in agonising fashion, as Kirui dipped past him in the final metres, a desperate Hughes threw himself across the line arms first, feet leaving the ground entirely. Unfortunately for the Canadian, Kirui ensured a Kenyan podium sweep, taking bronze in 8:12.24, 0.11 ahead of Hughes.

Nipperess matched his Glasgow 2014 performance, finishing ninth in 8:58.16, a brave run in the face of globally dominant opposition.

 “I’m disappointed in my performance and I expect better from myself, and I want to do better next time”

“Credit to Australia for coming to the athletics and giving us a big applause”

“To be fair, even when the Kenyan’s go slow, it’s quicker than my PB, it wasn’t world record pace, it was games record pace though. I thought I sat in a good position at the start, but it just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to” said Nipperess.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s