Zachariah Nelson's win in the Australian Heptathlon U16 Championship on 16 - 17 December was a great achievement in a highly competitive field.
The first four place-getters in the event, all from different States, were separated by a mere 250 points, and it was only the last event, the 1500 metres, which decided the order of the medals. Zachariah, however, rose above the other athletes with a 150 point margin over of the second place-getter.
The Heptathlon Championship was held in Canberra over 7 events: 100 metres hurdles, shot put, high jump, 200 metres sprint, long jump, javelin, and 1500 metres.
Late last week, competing in Sydney at the 4-day Australian All Schools Championships, Zachariah Nelson finished in third place in the U16 pole vault. Zachariah vaulted 3.80 metres. As a warm up Zachariah had entered the U18 event, which was scheduled earlier, where he cleared 3.70 metres and finished 5th.
Zachariah also entered the high jump, but his best leap of 1.75 m was only good enough for 10th place.
The Gippsland Group Training Athletics Squad members will be competing in a number of other championships over the next two months. These include Australian, Victorian, and Victorian Country titles.
In yesterday’s Commonwealth Games discus final Aaron Neighbour finished 11th. Aaron is a throwing coach for the Academy’s Athletics Program
Aaron had been through Tuesday’s elimination rounds which reduced the field to the final 12. After some good early round throws, Aaron was soon comfortably placed to make the final. He joined two other Australians, Scott Martin and Ben Harradine, both of whom were regarded as medal chances.
However, in the final, all of the Australians seemed to be struggling and were throwing below par. In the last rounds, Martin was the best placed Australian, just hanging on to third place from a number of challenges. Then, in a sensational last round, Scott Martin threw brilliantly and snatched the gold for Australia. Harradine and Neighbour finished out of the medals.
However, one of the important outcomes to us, at the Academy, is that Aaron’s competition experience, including many international events, is invaluable in his work with young athletes. We acknowledge and respect this, and we and congratulate him on his achievements in the Games.
Congratulations also to Academy athletics coach Aaron Neighbour. Aaron secured a place in the Commonwealth Games team in the discus.
After a consistent season and several B qualifying performances, Aaron needed a solid performance at the selection trials in order to secure a place. Happily, Aaron rose to the occasion.
At Ballarat, 29 - 29 January, a large contingent of Academy athletes competed for their clubs in the Victorian Country Track and Field Championships.
Decathlon specialist, Hamish Nelson was able to extend his talents to gold medals in 7 events (u20 age group) and was runner-up in two as well.
Mitchell Cooper was outstanding in the men’s u16 sprint and field events with four wins, a second, and finished off with an anchor leg run in the winning 4 x 100 relay team.
Other great u16 wins were by Zac Nelson (high jump and pole vault, with places in other events as well), Anthony McKay (3000 m and 2000 m hurdles); then in u18 it was Kane Smith and Daniel McKay who won the 110 m hurdles and 400 m hurdles respectively.
And the list goes on ...
Byron Thorburn, Ashley Thornton, Connan McKenzie, Mitchell Cooper, Andrew Broberg, Jack Ryan, Kane Smith, Chris Barrett and David McKay were all members of winning or place-getting relay teams.
Although gold may have eluded us in the women’s events, many of the girls have trained particularly well and surpassed expectations. Holly Colbert, Kathleen Goodwin, Abbie Freestone, Hayley Brown, Hayley Bermingham, Ashlea Lawry and Tanya Eagle all achieved places in at least one event.
Overall, an outstanding for our Gippsland Group Training Athletics Squad.
In the Victorian Track and Field Youth Championships. 21-22 January, seven Academy athletes competed and all performed exceptionally well.
Most outstanding was Mitchell Cooper, starting in five events, and winning in all of them. In men’s U16 Mitchell won the 100 metres hurdles, long jump, triple jump, 100 metres and 200 metres.
Zac Nelson had wins in the U16 men’s high jump and pole vault, was second behind Mitchell in the long jump, and also second in the javelin.
Anthony McKay, also in U16s, won a string of second places in the 1500 metres, 3000 metres and 2000 metres steeple.
In the men’s U20, Hamish Nelson won the pole vault, was third in the 400 hurdles, and 4th in the long jump. Adam Daldry placed 3rd in the hammer and 5th with the javelin.
Daniel McKay and Jack Ryan (both U 18 men), were the only athletes not to win medals, but still put in great performances. Daniel and Jack made their respective finals of the 400 metres hurdles (5th place) and 100 metres (7th place). Considering the technical difficulty of the 400 hurdles, and the extraordinary competitiveness of the 100 metre sprint, their results are also exemplary.
Hamish Nelson’s easy win in the Athletics Victoria U20 Decathlon Championship (7 - 8th January) might have pleased the open age athletes. Hamish’s 6278 points would have placed him second in the Open event, and not very far behind the winner either.
At the same meeting. the U16 Men’s Heptathlon (seven track and field events) was a three-way tussle with Essendon’s Johnny Rayner against the Academy’s Zac Nelson and Mitchell Cooper. Right up to the last event any of the three could have won, but victory went to Zac with Mitchell third, not too far behind.
Meanwhile, Emma Doderico (U18) and Tania Eagle (U16) finished in creditable 7th and 8th places respectively in their age groups in the Women’s Heptathlon.
The events also doubled as Victorian Country Championships, and all five athletes achieved Country wins or places.
Six Academy athletes competed at last weekend’s Australian All Schools Track and Field Championships, at Sydney, and all six had the distinction of qualifying for event finals.
The athletes were Hamish Nelson, Zac Nelson, David McKay, Anthony McKay, Adam Daldry and Jack Ryan. Best performers were under 15’s Zac Nelson and Anthony McKay, with third places respectively in the pole vault and 2000 metres steeplechase.
Jack Ryan and Hamish Nelson were also selected for State relay teams. Jack’s teams secured 3rd place in both the u16 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 events. Hamish, competing in a higher age group’s 4 x 400 team, helped them to 2nd place.
A handful of GGT Athletics Squad members represented their schools in the recent Victorian Schools Track and Field Championships for U17 - U20. Hamish Nelson won the decathlon as well as the 400 metres hurdles for U20’s.
Also keen to see some 400 metres hurdles competition were Ashlea Lawry and Daniel McKay, who finished 2nd and 4th respectively in the girls and boys U17 events.
Our other medallist was Adam Daldry who achieved secured 3rd in the U18 javelin.
A high standard of competition in the Octathlon (8 events in two days), may have helped Hamish to his personal best result at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Morocco, on 13 and 14 July. Despite losing ground in the points-critical sprint events, Hamish slowly worked his way up the board. One solid result was a 1.89 metre high jump but, given the high standard of the field, saw him gain little ground.
The final event on the final day, the 1000 metres, saw Hamish at his best. In his heat of Hamish took an early lead and won easily. His was also the fastest time of the two heats, which helped to lift Hamish’s overall position to 15th place. However, in the last event all eyes were on the Cuban, Garcia Yordani, who was running in the other heat. With a much slower time, Yordani’s 4th place was sufficient to clinch the Championship and record a new world best performance. That Hamish could achieve such fine results in a field of outstanding competitors is a credit to him.
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