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 Friday, March 31, 2006 

Kids' run a winner


VICTORIA'S newest major event, the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids, has smashed the state's fun-run record even before it's held.

The extraordinary response from Victorians yesterday forced organisers to close race entries 10 days earlier than scheduled when the field cap of 20,000 participants was reached.

Online and postal entries closed a day early, at 5pm yesterday, and the provision for entries to be lodged at Nike Melbourne in Bourke St by April 8 was cancelled.

But that didn't stop AFL pin-up boys Nick Riewoldt and Aaron Hamill, who are sponsored by Nike, from preparing for the big day.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 08:13     [Perma-Link]
 Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Preview of women's races at World Cross Country Championships

Wednesday 29 March 2006

Fukuoka, Japan - Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia will return to defend her short and long race titles this coming weekend at the 34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Fukuoka, Japan (1 – 2 April), and despite recent illness, she remains a prohibited favourite.

Last year in unexpectedly warm conditions - 27 degrees celsius with humidity at 35% - in St-Etienne/St-Galmier, France, the then 19-year-old Dibaba completed the second double in World Cross Country Championship history following on from Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan’s victories at the inaugural two-day/race edition of the championships in 1998.

If either Dibaba retains her titles or another athlete completes two senior wins in Fukuoka’s Umi-no-Nakamichi Seaside Park, it will be the last ever double achieved, as when the championships move to Mombassa, Kenya, for the 35th edition in 2007, the format will revert back to a one-day event, with the short races for both women and men being dropped from the programme...

Australia’s Benita Johnson was the surprise long race winner in 2004 but was not in her best form in Melbourne in the last fortnight, losing out in the 10,000m in which she was one of the pre-race favourites. The 26-year-old finished in fourth, albeit in her season’s fastest time of 31:58.08.

Complete article at the IAAF

Posted at 08:27     [Perma-Link]

Preview of men's races at World Cross Country Championships

29 March 2006 - Fukuoka, Japan - History will be made at Umi-no-Nakamichi Park, Fukuoka, this weekend, venue for the 34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships. For whatever the performance and achievement in Japan of Kenenisa Bekele, the outstanding favourite for the men's races, it will be the last time that the multi-world champion from Ethiopia has the opportunity to take titles at short (4km) and long (12km) races within 24 hours, and with it the lion's share of $100,000 first-place prize money.

This is the last time that long and short races will be staged at the World Cross, and Bekele intends to mark it by making it the fifth successive time that he manages to win both titles, another extraordinary achievement in the career of the 23-year-old Olympic and World 10,000m champion, who in Moscow earlier this month won his first World Indoor title at 3000m.

Bekele's mastery on the country has been well demonstrated already in 2006, with a battling victory at Edinburgh in January, when he saw off the bold challenge of Saif Saeed Shaheen, Qatar's steeplechase World champion in what had all the appearance of a re-run of last year's absorbing 4km World title race at St-Etienne/St-Galmier...

In Australia, 19-year-old Augustine Choge - winner of the World Junior Cross title a year ago - won a thrilling 5000m, beating home favourite Craig Mottram and his team mate, 5000m World champion Benjamin Limo. All three are entered for this weekend's races in Fukuoka.

Complete article at the IAAF

Posted at 08:24     [Perma-Link]

Lewis refuses to hand back gold

By Jim Wilson
March 29, 2006

THE athletics world was split last night following calls from track legend Ron Clarke that Australia's women's 4x400m relay members should give their Commonwealth Games gold medals to England.

Relay member Tamsyn Lewis, who collected gold alongside Jana Pittman, Caitlin Willis and Rosemary Hayward, was adamant she would keep her medal.

"We have all acknowledged England was the best team, but we don't make the rules," Lewis said.

"I am definitely not giving back the gold medal and we did nothing wrong. I never once said to the English runner that you are in the wrong position and it wasn't our mistake."

Respected commentator and athletics great Raelene Boyle said the incident was unfortunate.

She stopped short of saying our girls should relinquish the gold, but raised question marks over the handling of the disqualification.

"It should never have got this far and England should have won and were by far the best team," Boyle said.

"I can't understand where the officials were throughout all this. Why wasn't he or she standing right there and instructing the runners where to position themselves? I think it could have been far better handled and common sense should have prevailed."

Clarke yesterday slammed Australia's handling of the issue.

Complete article at FoxSports

Posted at 08:23     [Perma-Link]

Gold Coast Airport Marathon On Track for Another Record Break

The 28th annual event managed by Queensland Events Gold Coast, will be contested on Sunday 2 July 2006.

The 42 kilometre feature race will once again double as the Australian Marathon Championship.

"The winning combination of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon and Australian Marathon Championships are sure to give us a head start towards our goal of eclipsing last year's record of 12,711 competitors," Mr Fraser said.

"The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is an award-winning event attracting athletes from every Australian state and territory, the Asia-Pacific region and over 35 countries worldwide, so it's great to see it going from strength to strength," he said.

Queensland Events Gold Coast Chairman, Kerry Watson, said he has been buoyed by the huge early interest being received from overseas.

"The Japanese particularly are coming back in ever-increasing numbers and that's wonderful to see," Mr Watson said.

"On a promotional visit in February, I heard and saw enough to assure me that the Japanese runners consider our event one of the premier events at which they can combine a fantastic holiday with a world-class sporting experience.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

Posted at 08:13     [Perma-Link]
 Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Mazda crew gears for Run for the Kids


THE Herald SunCityLink Run for the Kids is on track to break Victoria's fun run record.

The event has been so popular that organisers announced yesterday they would cap the field at 20,000 to ensure it was not overcrowded.

About 500 volunteers are needed to help manage the huge crowd. Mazda workers yesterday threw their support behind the April 9 event, organising a team of volunteers to assist on the day.

With 20,000 runners and 500 volunteers, the Run for the Kids will be the biggest fun run held in Victoria.

Race director Steve Moneghetti -- who urged entrants to register now to avoid disappointment -- said planning was for a maximum 20,000 runners for the 14.7km and 4.5km events.

He said the decision to cap the field had been made reluctantly in the interests of staging a quality fun run.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 05:10     [Perma-Link]
 Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

Games left-overs go to sports clubs

Millions of dollars worth of equipment left over from the Commonwealth Games will be given to Victorian sports clubs.

Items from boxing rings to table tennis tables, netball hoops and myriad other equipment would be given to clubs where the benefits were greatest, Premier Steve Bracks said.

Mr Bracks said he wanted the 2006 Games to leave a legacy for the people of Victoria, including the upgraded MCG, the velodrome in Darebin and the extended swim centre.

"We are leaving a further legacy with some of the sports equipment which was used for the 2006 Commonwealth Games to be distributed on advice from some of our peak sporting bodies in Victoria and nationally for use both as training facilities and also for some elite competition events as well," the premier said.

The equipment, worth about $2 million, will support areas of disadvantage and be distributed as part the Staying Involved program, designed to boost sports participation, he said.

"One of the great ways we can do that is to resource-up our sporting clubs so that they can encourage more membership," he said.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 13:30     [Perma-Link]

Games a tremendous success for aths squad

Tuesday, March 28
Lee Troop

WELL the games have come and now gone and what a magnificent success it was.
The athletes performances, the organisation of scheduling, venues and transportation by M2006, the warmth of the volunteers and the vocal and passionate crowds have made the 18th Commonwealth Games by far the most successful and have re-invigorated an event that was starting to struggle in stature.

As one door closed for me with missing out on the games as an athlete, four others opened up for me to still be involved with TV commentating, reports for radio, articles for the Geelong Advertiser and MC'ing the Geelong Live Site for the City of Greater Geelong.

I wondered how I would deal with it all but I must say, I rode the emotions of all athletes and working 20 hour days, I had no time to think of myself and what I was missing out on.

The opening ceremony and closing ceremony were tough to watch and I went out and ran at 9pm on both occasions so I could not be reminded of what I was missing out on and at 5am on Sunday March 19th I ran the marathon course before the marathon with my coach.

I did not run it for motivation as with everything I have been through I don't need anymore motivating, but rather I ran it to rub a bit more salt into the wound and show me what I would be missing out on.

Before I go into some of my highlights I want to acknowledge Craig Mottram's response after he fell in the 1500m and finished 9th.

He spoke with true sportsmanship, humility and respect and I was really impressed with how he acted.

Complete article at the Geelong Advertiser

Posted at 11:38     [Perma-Link]

Children are ready to roll


CHILDREN of all ages will have a ball at the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids.

A huge post-race carnival with entertainment, food and drink stalls and celebrity appearances will accompany the April 9 charity run raising funds for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal.
AFL players, Olympic legend Cathy Freeman and star runner Steve Moneghetti will be at Royal Park South for the day with the main stage to be hosted by Herald Sun sports writer Jim Wilson.

Family entertainment specialist Camp Australia would run activities such as an earth ball game and parachute games, manager Russell Davidson said.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 08:54     [Perma-Link]
 Monday, March 27, 2006 

Pittman part of protest, says Lewis


TAMSYN Lewis says the controversial protest lodged after the women's 4 x 400m relay final came after a discussion involving all four runners, despite teammate Jana Pittman publicly washing her hands of the move.

Australia became a shock winner when track officials deemed England, which easily reached the line first, had accepted the baton for the third leg from an illegal track position.

Lewis and Pittman, whose off-track feud had dominated talk in the lead-up to the Games, referred the matter to stewards moments after the completion of the race.

England officials and commentators reacted angrily to the upholding of the protest, and British newspapers last night quoted Pittman as saying as she left the track: "I'm not associating myself with that decision. England won the gold medal."

But Lewis said relay runners Rosemary Hayward and Caitlin Willis were also consulted before she and Pittman approached officials.

"Make no mistake, this was discussed straight after the race and it was decided Jana and I would approach officials," Lewis said.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 11:56     [Perma-Link]

Buster in no hurry for post-mortem

Scott Gullan

WHO is to blame? It's the question the entire nation has been asking since its hero, Craig Mottram, tripped and fell on to the MCG track mid-way through Saturday night's 1500m final.

At the moment Mottram doesn't care. He hasn't watched a replay of the race nor spoken to any of the athletes involved yet because the pain is too strong. He'll get around to it down the track.

His coach Nic Bideau has seen it many times and still can't believe it. What is known is that Mottram was the unlucky victim of a minor scrimmage that happens all the time in major championships racing, just not normally with such a disastrous outcome.

The villain is easy to find. England's Andrew Baddeley ended up on his back next to Mottram after clipping the Australian's heels as he crashed to the track.

"I got clipped across the back of my legs and went down," Baddeley said. "I think I took Craig down with me. I really feel bad about that, but all I can remember was getting taken down and then hitting him, and hopefully the video shows that."

So who brought Baddeley down?

The video shows the Englishman racing on the outside of New Zealander Adrian Blincoe and directly behind Mottram who was doing the same, keeping out of trouble on the outside.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 10:20     [Perma-Link]

Kiprop pround to win 10K

By Paul Tait
March 25, 2006

UGANDA'S Boniface Kiprop broke Kenya's dominance of distance events at the Commonwealth Games when he held on to win the 10,000m final tonight, his first major title.

Kiprop, fourth at the Athens Olympics and the world championships, held off a three-man challenge for most of the race and still had enough for one last sprint to win in 27min 50.99sec.

The time was more than a minute outside Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele's world record set last August.

"Kenenisa Bekele is my friend and my hero and I want to run like him," 21-year-old Kiprop said.

"Tonight I wanted to win the race and I definitely knew it was there to be won."

Kenyan Geoffrey Kipngeno tried to catch Kiprop over the final 200m but had to settle for the silver medal in 27min 51.16sec.

Tanzania's Fabian Naasi took the bronze in 27min 51.99sec with Kenya's Paul Langat fourth.

All four had vied for the lead after breaking clear of the the pack after about 10 laps but Kipngeno, Naasi and Langat were unable to make a decisive break away from the Ugandan from Kwirwot.

Langat slashed more than a minute off his previous best time.

Complete article at Foxsports

Posted at 10:18     [Perma-Link]

Pushing home the message

Jordana Borensztajn

LITTLE William will celebrate his second birthday the same day as the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids.

William, who had a stroke at birth and has cerebral palsy, will cover the race's shorter 4.5km course in a pram on Sunday April 9.
Long-term supporters of the Royal Children's Hospital, mother and father Emma and Paul Smith, want to show support to the hospital that William constantly visits, Mr Smith said.

"He was born on Good Friday on the 9th of April, which is the day of the run, in 2004," Mr Smith said.

"We thought it would be fitting seeing as it is on his birthday . . . just to show our appreciation to the hospital."

The inaugural fun run will launch the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal, in its 75th year.

Victorians will have the chance to run over the Bolte Bridge and through the Domain tunnel on the 14.7km course.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 10:17     [Perma-Link]

Golden smiles, broken heart

by Alan Attwood

It was a sickening moment. Australian 1500-metres hopeful Craig Mottram was left sprawling on the track after tripping and falling at the MCG last night. Courageously he picked himself up and kept running, finishing ninth. Mark Fountain took the bronze to take some of the pain away for Australia.

YOU want drama? Try this. Craig Mottram fell. So did relay batons left, right and centre. Australia's queen of pole vault, Kym Howe, soared to a golden Games and national record. Athletics' man of the moment, John Steffensen, won his second gold medal, leading the Australian 4 x 400 metres relay team to victory.

The women's 400 metres relay team also claimed a gold medal, but only well after the race had been run. The English team won comfortably, but then was disqualified for an infringement at a changeover. It was an appropriately controversial conclusion to an incident-packed night on which athletics came to resemble a demolition derby. At the end of it all, wonder of wonders, the duelling duo of Jana Pittman and Tamsyn Lewis were united in victory, gold medals around their necks.

That was how Craig Mottram had also hoped to go out. Instead he ended up sprawled on the MCG track, brought down from behind in a tangle of flying feet halfway through the race in which he had sought redemption.

Instead of a gold medal to go with his silver from the 5000 metres earlier in the week, he finished near the tail of the field in the men's 1500 metres final. The race lasted just over 3½ minutes. But Mottram's chances were wrecked in just a second or two. This was the difference between contender and casualty.

The fall that wrecked his medal chances came half an hour after a botched baton-change spoiled Australia's hopes in the men's 4 x 100 metres sprint relay. And so, on a frenetic night before a crowd of 83,000, it was double disaster for the home team in successive track events.

It seemed Australia's Midas touch of the past 10 days, evident everywhere from swimming pool to velodrome and bowling greens, and earlier yesterday on the hockey field and in the boxing ring, had finally worn off. Then the men's 400 metres relay team stormed home and the women got their post-race gold.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 10:15     [Perma-Link]

Mottram, the fall guy

By Len Johnson
March 26, 2006

DISASTER struck Craig Mottram 800 metres into last night's 1500 metres final at the MCG. Struck from behind by a sprawling Andrew Baddeley of England, he fell to the ground and out of contention.

Well placed, travelling beautifully and having the drop on his main opponent, Nick Willis of New Zealand, Mottram was brought down when interference in the pack behind him caused Baddeley to fall and the Australian to become the innocent victim of a chain reaction.

Willis went on to win the race in three minutes 38.49 seconds, the man who displaced John Walker as New Zealand record-holder in the 1500 metres becoming its first Commonwealth mile or 1500 metres winner since an even greater Kiwi, Peter Snell, won in Perth in 1962.

Nathan Brannen of Canada, who skipped clear of the fall, took the silver medal in 3:39.20, while Australian Mark Fountain somehow found a way inside Kiwi Paul Hamblyn and England's Nick McCormick in the final 30 metres to grab the bronze medal on the line in 3:39.33.

Mottram was beaten by Augustine Choge of Kenya in the 5000 metres last Monday, and the 1500, instead of a chance to complete a Games double, became his second shot at a gold and he impressively led the qualifiers from Fountain in Friday night's heats.

Mottram went straight through the mixed zone after the race, but returned soon afterwards. "That was unfortunate, wasn't it?" he said.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 10:13     [Perma-Link]

Mottram crashes out of Commonmwealth 1,500m

Australian favourite Craig Mottram crashed out of the men's 1,500 metres at the Commonwealth Games this evening, falling heavily midway through the race.

The 5,000m silver medallist was well in contention at the 800m mark when Englishman Andrew Baddeley fell, pulling Mottram down with him.

The Australian picked himself up and tried to catch the main group but faded to finish ninth behind winner Nick Willis of New Zealand.

Canada's Nathan Brannen took silver and another Australian, Mark Fountain, took bronze.

Mottram was philosophical about his misfortune. "It was unfortunate," the 25-year-old said. "I started Monday with a great result and finished tonight with not such a good one. I was hit from behind, I think by the British guy, who was pushed. He fell onto me. It was a racing accident."

The cost to Baddeley could be much heavier.

"Someone pushed me from behind. I caught Mottram and brought him down," said the 23-year-old, fearing he had re-broken his wrist, which was already in a plaster cast, when his hand struck Mottram's heel.

Complete article at The ABC

Posted at 07:35     [Perma-Link]
 Friday, March 24, 2006 

Rollison grabs steeplechase silver

Scott Gullan

FIVE months ago Melissa Rollison was on the athletics scrapheap. Last night it took a world champion to deny her a Commonwealth Games steeplechase gold medal.

With her body and mind broken after a horror stint under the guidance of former Australian distance coach Said Aouita, the 22-year-old Queenslander thought she would never run again.

But after making contact with her former manager, Nic Bideau, in November, Rollison returned to the track and, in a remarkable career resurrection last night, pushed Uganda's world champion Dorcus Inzikuru all the way in an absorbing steeplechase final.

Only a stumble at the third-last jump, with 250m to go, cost the world junior record-holder a chance of victory and opened the door for Inzikuru, who powered home to win in 9min 19.51sec.

Rollison slashed six seconds off her personal best in setting an Australian record of 9:24.29, with Tasmania's Donna MacFarlane taking nine seconds off her lifetime best to win the bronze medal in 9:25.05.

Australia's other representative, Victoria Mitchell, finished fourth in a personal best of 9:34.24.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 08:27     [Perma-Link]
 Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Commonwealth Games: Mottram's heroic effort in vain

He could not have done more. Nobody born and raised at sea level could have. And the 79,000 adoring fans at the breathtakingly refurbished MCG could not have roared any louder if Dennis Lillee, coming in off his long run, had uprooted Ian Botham's middle stump.

But still Craig Mottram could not beat the Africans. And if he is unable to, is there a white Caucasian who ever will? A delicate subject but undeniably the major topic of debate last night as the huge crowd spilled out into the city's bars. No point in evading the issue. It is also what the athletes themselves talk about.

The courageous, long-striding Australian - though his parents are British and he travels on a British passport - ran himself to a standstill in front of his home-town crowd and had seemingly done the hard work by seeing off Kenya's world 5,000 metres champion, Benjamin Limo.

Unfortunately Mottram, and most of the pundits, had possibly overlooked the challenge of Limo's slight 19-year-old colleague, Augustine Choge, a world junior champion in 2004, who announced himself with a staggering run of 12min 56.41sec on a cold and blustery evening.

The Kenyan athletics authorities are as prone to messing up their system, making bizarre selections and employing dud coaches as any in the world and they have begun to struggle against the arch enemy, Ethiopia. But do not doubt for one second that their conveyor belt supplying extraordinary middle-distance talent is in working order.

Your heart goes out to Mottram, who took a bronze in the World Championship 5,000m in Helsinki last August, the only non-African to win a medal in a world or Olympic 5,000m or 10,000m in the last 19 years. He has been chipping away at the big African names and just when he lands a big scalp in Limo, another Kenyan teenager emerges. Like painting the Forth Bridge, his work is seemingly never finished.

Complete article at The Telegraph

Posted at 14:57     [Perma-Link]
 Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

It's the tunnel of love for kids


THEY may look like traffic officers but these volunteers will be directing people through the Domain tunnel, not cars.

The Transurban team volunteered to help in the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids on April 9 but more good samaritans are needed.

Transurban spokeswoman Jean Ker Walsh said about 70 staff were taking part, as runners or volunteers.

Anyone who wants to help can call 9596 2340.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 08:07     [Perma-Link]

Kenyans dash distance medal hopes

By Jesse Hogan

For the second night in a row, Australia's hopes for a gold medal in a distance running event were dashed by a Kenyan - although this time there were two of them.

Following Craig Mottram's loss to Augustine Choge last night, Australian Benita Johnson was a warm favourite for the women's 10,000 metres but was overhauled in the last 500 metres after staying with the leading pack for most of the race.

The 26-year-old made her move on Kenyan pair Lucy Wangui and Evelyn Wambui with six laps remaining to move into second, but lost her position with three laps remaining.

The Kenyans then created a 40-metre gap over third-placed Johnson - who was then overtaken by England's Mara Yamauchi with 500 metres to go - and increased that distance in the run to the finish line.

Wambui had a three-metre lead with 150 metres to go and looked in control, but Wangui showed a stirring burst of speed to surge past her compatriot in the straight - delighting the crowd in the half-filled stands at the MCG - and take the gold by one second in 31 minutes, 29.66 seconds.

Yamauchi claimed the bronze in 31:49.40 - slashing an astonishing 47 seconds off her personal best - with Johnson fourth in 31:58.06 and the remaining Australian Anna Thompson notching a personal best to finish fifth.

"World champion defeated"

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 07:56     [Perma-Link]

O'Sullivan injured

SONIA O'Sullivan will not take her place in Australia's Commonwealth Games team.

Having jumped all the official hurdles, a dodgy hamstring has brought O'Sullivan undone. She was reduced to a walk during a training run a couple of weeks ago and has been unable to get back to a state of fitness where she could do herself justice.

O'Sullivan, one of the greatest female distance runners of the current era, became an Australian citizen earlier this year and was able to run in Melbourne because current Commonwealth rules do not preclude athletes with dual citizenship representing a Commonwealth country. She also hopes to represent Ireland at this year's European championships.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 07:54     [Perma-Link]

Elbowing a path to a silver medal

By Jacquelin Magnay and Jessica Halloran
March 22, 2006

AUSTRALIAN Sarah Jamieson had to elbow her way through to a silver medal in the 1500 metres last night and in the process spoilt a trifecta for the British.

In the event that the English have claimed as their own of late, and with the defending Commonwealth champion and current Olympic champion Kelly Holmes on the sideline, the English youngster Lisa Dobriskey stormed down the outside to claim victory.

But so shocked was Dobriskey at winning the Commonwealth title, she forgot to take a lap of honour.

"I am absolutely shell-shocked, "she said.

"My tactics were appalling but somehow going wide it all worked out. Not for one minute did I believe I could win here."

Dobriskey is the latest in a stellar list of stars that have hailed from the Loughbrough University club just outside of London, including Sebastian Coe, David Moorecroft, Clive Woodward and Paula Radcliffe.

The 22-year-old was forced to go wide and take the outside line to steer clear of the last lap congestion that had boxed in Jamieson.

Jamieson said she was trying to be patient and pray that a gap would open up.

"It was a pretty messy race and it took my full concentration," Jamieson said.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 07:52     [Perma-Link]

Bideau's methods are make or break

By Raelene Boyle
March 22, 2006

He's a ruthless coach and he doesn't care who he offends.

NIC Bideau is the biggest name in athletics coaching in Australia and he will not leave a stone unturned to achieve success. He is so driven, so absolutely ruthless in the way he approaches his athletes, and he truly doesn't care who he offends in the process.

I still believe there is a nicer way to have success with young talented people.

Nic has an all-consuming passion to produce champions, but I believe he has dismantled as many athletes as he has produced.

A lot of Nic's reputation is built upon Cathy Freeman and he ran her life, the way he insists on running the lives of all his athletes. But let's remember he wasn't coaching Cathy when she won her Olympic gold medal, and wasn't for a reasonable amount of time before that.

Craig Mottram, who won a Commonwealth Games silver medal for Australia in the 5000 metres on Monday night, has helped build Nic's reputation.

It was a sensational run by Craig at the MCG. The crowd screamed and yelled like they were at an Olympic Games and what they were watching were performances the equivalent of a world championship.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 07:50     [Perma-Link]

Benita behind

By Len Johnson
March 22, 2006

THE wrong Kenyan won the gold, the wrong athlete took the bronze and Benita Johnson wound up with nothing after a pulsating Commonwealth women's 10,000 metres at the MCG last night.

For 22 of the 25 laps, Johnson looked to have a medal in her grasp, the colour to be determined.

Within seconds, the gold and silver disappeared as Evelyn Wambui took off, taking Lucy Wangui with her. Johnson could not respond.

Worse was to come. Going down the back straight for the second-last time, England's Mara Yamauchi, dropped by the other three with four laps to run, sprinted past Johnson and the bronze had gone in a flash as well.

Wambui looked to have the race won as she entered the final straight. But Wangui summoned a desperate and devastating sprint that launched her to the gold medal in 31 minutes 29.66 seconds.

Wambui came in 10 metres behind, a delighted Yamauchi taking third in a huge personal best of 31:49.40. Johnson came home spent in 31:58.08 with Australian teammate Anna Thompson fifth in a personal best of 32:27.74.

"I ran my best, I really went for it — I just wasn't good enough," Johnson said after the race. "It was pretty hard … The girls were surging the whole way. The last move I just couldn't go."

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 07:47     [Perma-Link]
 Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Silver lining

by Len Johnson

AUGUSTINE Choge of Kenya upstaged Craig Mottram to win the Commonwealth Games 5000 metres at the MCG last night, but only after one of the greatest races in Melbourne's rich distance-running history.

The race was billed as a match between another Kenyan Benjamin Limo and the Australian. Limo had won the 5000 metres at the world championships in Helsinki last year; Mottram took the bronze.

But the word coming out of Kenya was that Choge, who also wanted atonement after being run out in the heats of the 1500 metres in Helsinki, was the man who might beat them both.

Last night, despite the passionate support of 79,000 fans in the MCG, Choge showed that he was the man.

The three Kenyans — Choge, Limo and Joseph Ebuya went straight to the front with Mottram right on their heels.

But from the time the race really started when Mottram moved into the lead with a kilometre to run, there were only two men in it — Mottram and Choge.

Faster and faster they ran, the Australian always in the lead. The fourth kilometre had been the fastest of the race at two minutes 36 seconds; the final two-and-a-half laps took just 2:26.41.

With 250 metres to go, Choge came off Mottram's heels and sprinted for home. Mottram maintained contact for 100 metres, but by the time they hit the final straight, Choge was in control.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:39     [Perma-Link]

I'll be back: Buster

by Michael Gordon

CRAIG "Buster" Mottram left nothing to chance in his preparation and executed his race plan with a surgeon's precision before a crowd of 79,000 at the MCG last night, only to be denied gold in the 5000 metres by an almighty kick by 19-year-old Kenyan Augustine Choge.

It was Ron Clarke, one of Australia's greatest distance runners, who observed privately that the biggest threat to Mottram would not be Benjamin Limo, the world champion, but the younger Kenyan. "The up-and-comers are the hungry ones," he had said. So it was.

When it was over, all the brave Mottram could do was shrug and applaud the victor. "Unfortunately, there was one fella better than me. That's racing," he said. "That's the beauty of the beast. I'll be back."

Choge was equally gracious. "I thank the Australian crowd for cheering. I knew this man (Mottram) was a great one."

There are few consolations in defeat, but Mottram can be satisfied he gave himself every chance — and that his time of 12:58.19, two seconds behind Choge, shattered the previous Commonwealth Games record by more than 15 seconds.

More than that, he again served notice that he is a rising star in an event that has been dominated by Africans for the best part of two decades, a point appreciated by the crowd when Sebastian Coe presented him with his silver medal.

Mottram knew the three Kenyans would run as a unit, but believed he had the plan to beat them. For the first 8½ laps, he sat in fourth place, sandwiched between three Kenyans in front and three Tanzanians behind, with Limo and Choge rotating the lead.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:34     [Perma-Link]

What kept staunch Smyth in marathon contention?

By Greg Rule
March 21, 2006

AdvertisementTWO things kept Kate Smyth going in the excruciating home stretch of the women's marathon when her body was screaming for her to stop.

There was the crowd, not just the MCG roar, but a constant cacophony of support along the whole course. And there was another thing.

"We've got a bit of a thing going with distance running," Smyth said yesterday. "Certainly with distance running … if you start a race and you don't finish it or you pull out halfway through, you've got to take your T-shirt off — and I only had a singlet top on, so that really wasn't an option at all for me."

Smyth skipped the beers when she celebrated her marathon performance with friends and family later that night. Instead, she opted for a few glasses of water and a huge slab of chocolate cake.

Hours before, a nation held its breath as the Australian distance runner staggered into the MCG, more backwards than forwards in a distressed, and distressing, version of the moonwalk.

"All I could think about was just getting across the line," Smyth, 33, said. "That was my focus and it's been my focus for months and months of training.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:33     [Perma-Link]

Johnson looks to revisit glory of '04

By Len Johnson
March 21, 2006

WHEN Benita Johnson won the world cross-country championships two years ago — Australia's first medallist in the event — she had reached a mountain top. Ever since, she has been trying to get back.

Tonight's final of the women's 10,000 metres will be a significant chance to regain the heights. With Paula Radcliffe not coming to Melbourne because of a foot injury, Johnson in anything like her 2004 form would be very hard to beat.

Her troubles began soon after her biggest moment. She was injured and pushed her recovery too hard, leading to a disastrous performance at the Athens Olympics.

Last year in Helsinki at the world championships she did not run as badly as that, but it was still disappointing measured against her own hopes and expectations.

There have been good performances, too, including a string of cross-country wins in Europe before finishing seventh last year in defending her world cross-country title and a marathon of two hours 26 minutes in London last year.

After Helsinki, Johnson reluctantly abandoned the European circuit races she had planned on track and road and came back to Australia for a six-week break and a more relaxed, less intense, build-up to the Commonwealth Games.

She has profited from her slower build-up and said just before the Melbourne meeting on March 9 that she was "in the best shape of my life".

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:31     [Perma-Link]
 Monday, March 20, 2006 

Living a gold dream

By Len Johnson
March 20, 2006

A MARATHON is run with the legs and the feet, but sometimes it helps to use the head as well.

Samson Ramadhani of Tanzania lay off the suicidal early pace set by his teammate Christopher Isegwe and Kenya's Fred Mogaka yesterday and came through strongly over the last 17 kilometres to take the men's marathon in two hours 11 minutes 29 seconds.

Isegwe, Mogaka and, initially, Ramadhani, blazed off at a pace of three minutes a kilometre. By 10 kilometres, Ramadhani decided he wanted no further part of this. At 15 kilometres he had dropped 50 metres back, by halfway he was almost 30 seconds down.

"I knew that the Kenyans were very strong," Ramadhani said after his win, "but I didn't use strength. I used my brain."

The fast start combined with the emergence of a warm sun turned it into a race of attrition. Even Ramadhani slowed, his second half some three minutes slower than his first.

Isegwe was the first casualty, slowly down and dramatically clutching his hamstring as he and Mogaka roared past the 20 kilometres on the lap of Albert Park Lake. The silver medallist at last year's world championships pulled out of the race.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 13:17     [Perma-Link]

Mottram turns blowtorch on Kenyans

CRAIG Mottram has turned the heat on to his Kenyan rivals, claiming they are the ones who should be nervous about tonight's 5000m final.

The Victorian dismissed suggestions that he would be the one under pressure, saying he was now at a level where the Africans could no longer dictate terms in major championships.

Mottram pointed to his national record-breaking performance over 2km at this month's World Series meeting at Olympic Park as evidence he can take whatever the Kenyans throw at him.

"We know now I am strong and running that 2km was great," he said. "That adds pressure to them because everyone knows I am going well; they know I can run 4:50 for 2km.

"They might be thinking about taking it out hard from the start and try to drop me, or taking it out slow. Either way, I think they will be nervous about it because I can kick with most of them and they will have to run 12:40 to drop me.

"It's going to be difficult for them to sit back and relax because they really can't do anything to get rid of me. It's up to me to make the right decision in the last couple of laps; when to move or when to hold back. It will just happen and a lot of it is by instinct."

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 09:47     [Perma-Link]

Ran fast. Past the line. Cried a river.

By John Huxley
March 20, 2006

Kerryn McCann was in tears. Her family was in tears. The huge Melbourne Cricket Ground crowd was in tears. Even the man presenting the gold medal was in tears.

After more than two hours of "Will she, won't she?" tension, such was the emotional release that greeted her victory in the women's marathon at the Commonwealth Games yesterday.

It is not a blue ribbon race: the women had to run on the same morning as the men, though they were given a start to prevent any tangling of the two groups.

And for all her courage, McCann, 38, was not famous, except perhaps in Wollongong, or Coledale, where she lives with her husband, Greg, and children, Benton and Josie.

To tens of thousands of Sydneysiders slogging up Heartbreak Hill she is probably better known as a City-to-Surfer, albeit one so quick that she is seen only on the six o'clock news crossing the finish line.

But yesterday she and Hellen Cherono, a Kenyan athlete barely half her age, produced a race that will be remembered for many a year.

For more than 40 kilometres the two women ran shoulder to shoulder. "I wasn't sure if she was on my shoulder at one point," McCann said. "I couldn't hear her breathing."

Over the last kilometre the lead changed five times, but come the stadium McCann would not let go of her advantage until she crossed the line. Then she collapsed on the track.

"They don't come any better - or more emotional - than that," said the former Commonwealth marathon champion Steve Moneghetti, who learned only after the race he was to present the gold medal. "I thought I was handing over the flowers."

McCann, who was fresh enough to do a lap of honour with her son, praised the estimated 65,000 crowd. "They were just amazing. If it wasn't here [at the MCG], I would have got silver."

She thanked her family and friends for helping her manage her running, then announced she planned just one more race before retiring. "I just want to be a mum and a normal person," she said, cheerfully adding that marathons were less demanding.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:28     [Perma-Link]

City rises to the occasion

The marathon provides another opening ceremony as athletics get off to the most dramatic of starts.

THE Commonwealth Games began again yesterday, and the marathons were their new opening ceremony. They showed off the city, which was more flattered by the freshness of Sunday morning than by any floodlight.

They drew crowds into the stands and streets, bringing Melbourne to a standstilll, not to be confused with its usual state early on the Sabbath.

They featured drama that was all the more moving for the fact that it was neither scripted nor rehearsed. Fish, fireworks and fantasies of flying are all very well, but could never bring as ready a tear to the eye as when Kerryn Mc- Cann summoned up her last surge inside the MCG, taking more than 76,000 with her, and at last leaving the valiant Kenyan Hellen Cherono behind.

"I ran the fastest 300 of my life," McCann said at the presentation. "The crowd just lifted me and all my pain went away."

McCann's gold medal was presented by former marathoner Steve Moneghetti, who defied all protocol to give her a long and emotional hug on the dais. A mayor has a duty to his citizens, after all. Less than half an hour later, Tanzanian Samson Ramadhani, who had also fought an epic duel with a Kenyan, won the men's marathon. By conducting the men's and women's events on the same day and course, but with staggered start times, organisers not only sustained the high, but highlighted the interplay between the prosperous and the persevering that lies at the heart of these Games.

The crowd was still there to cheer lustily for the last finisher in each field, Jamaica's Arieta Martin and St Helena's Eroll Duncan, who each finished more than an hour behind the winners.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:27     [Perma-Link]

Marathon brings city to life

By Adam Morton and Peter Ker
March 20, 2006

THE Lygon Street crowd was half-awake and atypical, barely a restaurant spruiker in sight.

Families dosed up on coffee, newspapers and early morning sun, some politely waving mini-Australian flags.

But they came alive as a leading pack of four marathon runners, including eventual winner Samson Ramadhani Nyonyi, extended themselves around the Grattan Street corner into the famed Carlton strip, heading for the CBD. It became clear these marathon spectators were Games diehards, happy to spend their Sunday morning hanging over a barrier for only a moment's glimpse of each runner.

They clapped and whooped as loudly for the guys plodding at the back as for the graceful athletes out front. The speed of the leader pack was striking. Teenagers wearing green-and-gold backpacks sprinted alongside down the footpath but couldn't keep up for long.

Helen Edwards had brought her children from Heidelberg to soak it up. "There's a great spirit here. And it doesn't cost anything," she said.

While most stood, plenty more were content to sit outdoors at the roadside restaurants and eat their Sunday brunch, looking up from their papers just as the runners passed. A barbecue outside Lesley's Cafe was doing steady business, though 10.30 seemed early for sausages and onion. The standing crowd was thickest at the corner of Grattan Street, but rarely more than two deep down the strip.

No need to strain to see when the course runs more than 42 kilometres across the city.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:26     [Perma-Link]

A finish to cheer about

Women's marathon winner Kerryn McCann was struggling, but the MCG crowd brought her home.

CALL it the G-factor. If not for the almighty roar of the partisan crowd at the MCG yesterday, it seems there is no way Kerryn McCann would have held on to win the women's marathon in one of the greatest finishes in Australian sporting history — and perhaps the defining moment in these Commonwealth Games.

This is not mere speculation. The gold medallist herself credited the 76,000 in the audience with dragging her over the line.

"It was just amazing," she said yesterday. "If it wasn't held here, I would have got silver."

The 38-year-old mother of two was "nearly gone". Her calves had begun cramping at the 38-kilometre mark and young Kenyan Hellen Cherono Koskei, a 22-year-old in her first major championship, was breathing down her neck.

Or maybe she wasn't. They had been locked together for much of the race and, in the last kilometre, had swapped the lead four or five times. But now McCann couldn't tell if Koskei was on her shoulder.

"I couldn't hear her breathing, so I thought she was probably feeling pretty good."

Then, once again, the Kenyan went round her and McCann started praying: "Please don't sprint yet." She wasn't sure she'd be able to go with her.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:24     [Perma-Link]

Smyth recovers well after troubled finish

By Len Johnson and Adam Morton
March 20, 2006

HER protesting body was not all that was moving in a troublesome fashion for Kate Smyth on her ungainly final lap of the MCG in yesterday's women's marathon. As she struggled towards it, the finish line began to move on her, too.

Smyth, the 33-year-old Australian, swayed, leaned and, with exaggerated swings of her arms and legs, appeared to be running backwards as she reached the line. Once over the line, the 33-year-old fell to the MCG track. She had to be taken out on a stretcher, but recovered well after being placed on a rehydrating drip and later she enjoyed a dinner engagement with family and friends at a Richmond hotel.

Smyth last night said she could recall little of her defiant finish. "To be honest, about the only thing I remember was the roar of the crowd."

Smyth battled to the line in seventh place. Like a mirage, the actual finish line was hard to find. "I actually thought the finish line was moving," said Smyth.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:21     [Perma-Link]

Running on empty

by Len Johnson

It was the marathon to end all marathons as Australian mother of two Kerryn McCann went head to head with Kenya's Hellen Cherono, while Kate Smyth battled dehydration. Both won with just a little bit of help from the Melbourne crowd.

IN THE end, it was a marathon that exhausted everything. Even the cliches.

Kerryn McCann and Hellen Cherono went toe-totoe, stride-for-stride, right down to the wire. When it was all done and dusted, McCann lay down on the track, happy and exhausted all at once. Done, and looking pretty much dusted, too.

"I've never run a marathon like that before," McCann said, "where I've had to sprint 300metres after I'd run 42kilometres."

Few of us had ever watched one like it either. From the half-way point, when McCann started to assert herself, shedding another runner from the leading pack of 10 almost with each stride, Cherono had shadowed the Australian.

Those dropped included the other two Australians, Kate Smyth and Lauren Shelley. England's Liz Yelling hung on the longest and was eventually rewarded with the bronze medal.

Through 25kilometres in Fitzroy St, 30kilometres on Beaconsfield Parade just past Kerferd Rd, through 35kilometres on Southbank and all around the Botanic Gardens, Cherono clung to the Australian's heels. Often McCann could not see her, but always she could sense the Kenyan's presence.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 09:18     [Perma-Link]
 Friday, March 17, 2006 

Australian Athletics Comes Together to Name Captains

The captains of the Australian Athletics Team will be named this evening at a gala dinner in Melbourne to celebrate the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. Over 550 passionate supporters of Track and Field will come together at Eden on the Park to celebrate the feats of the past and wish the present athletes well for the next week of competition.

An initiative of Athletics Australia, in conjunction with Athletics International, the Team Supporters Function brings together the athletics fraternity, athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, administrators, family, friends and fans.

Master sportscaster Bruce McAvaney will host the event, the highlight of which will be the naming of the captains. Much conjecture has surrounded the announcement, heightened by the naming of Jan Saville as Australia’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony.

Saville, alongside fellow walker Nathan Deakes, high jumper Paul Burgess, marathoner Kerryn McCann, triple jumper Andrew Murphy, hammer thrower Stuart Rendell and long jumper Bronwyn Thompson leads the list of more experienced possibilities. However, selectors may look to a younger group led by World Championships bronze medallist Craig Mottram.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

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Coe, Ovett meet again

By Len Johnson
March 17, 2006

Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett only ever raced each other seven times. Perhaps you can add another one or two, depending how you define "race". Whatever the true figure, it was never enough to satisfy the demand.

They broke each other's records. They even won each other's events at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Ovett beating world record holder Coe in the 800 metres, Coe rebounding to win the 1500, breaking an Ovett string of 45 straight wins.

Yesterday, the occasion of the Commonwealth Games brought them together when the two middle-distance greats spoke at a corporate breakfast.

Host Bruce McAvaney's questions provided a theme on which the two greats improvised freely. Consider Coe's take on the 1978 European 800 metres final. His father/coach Peter told him he was unlikely to win — "perhaps not a great thing to say," understated Coe — but to go out hard and "'see what these bastards are made of".

Coe duly ran the first lap in under 50 seconds. Until 700 metres it was a winning tactic; then Ovett steamed past. Just as the music director was reaching for the God Save the Queen cassette, an East German named Olaf Beyer passed both of them.

Ovett leant over Coe and said something, which most of the watching media assumed was a sledge. In fact, Coe related, he said: "Who the f--- was that guy?"

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 10:11     [Perma-Link]

Aussie runner in caffeine blunder

Australian marathoner Scott Westcott has been castigated by a team boss for saying he'll take a caffeine tablet before running on Sunday.

Westcott admitted today he would probably take a No-Doz tablet before contesting the marathon at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

The 30-year-old New South Welshman, competing at his first Games, attended a media conference today with fellow Australian marathoners Andrew Letherby and Shane Nankervis.

Asked what he would eat before Sunday's marathon, Westcott replied: "A couple of bits of toast in the morning and a coffee or two, maybe a No-Doz tablet - I probably shouldn't be saying that."

At that point, Australian team chef de mission John Devitt interjected and said: "No, you shouldn't."

A No-Doz tablet contains 200mg of caffeine, roughly the equivalent of two brewed cups of coffee.

Complete article at The Age

Posted at 10:10     [Perma-Link]
 Thursday, March 16, 2006 

Athletics Legends Guide Baton to its Journey's End

The eyes of the Commonwealth focussed on Australian Athletics legends from the past 50 years, last night, as they carried the Queen’s Baton on the last stages of its epic journey from Buckingham Palace to the hands of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Herb Elliott, Catherine Freeman, Ron Clarke, Marjorie Jackson and John Landy were the final five runners escorting the Baton to the finale of its 180,000km journey across the globe.

The Baton has visited all 71 Commonwealth Nations, including Antarctica in the year and a day since it began its journey on 14 March, 2005.

Arguably the world's greatest ever miler, Herb Elliott delivered the baton to the MCG. Herb was only defeated once over the mile and won gold medals in the mile and 880 yards at the 1958 Cardiff games. He followed up with Olympic gold over 1500m in Rome in 1960.

Australia’s golden girl of athletics, Catherine Freeman was the first of the four runners to take the Baton inside the stadium. Best known for her gold medal performance at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Catherine entered the stadium amidst images of the Relay’s journey projected onto the main stage surface. She was also the first to run with the Baton when it set off from Buckingham Palace.

The Baton was then passed to Australian long distance runner, Ron Clarke. During his career, he broke 18 world records from the one mile to 20,000 metres. In 1966 he held six world records. No athlete in history has matched this feat. Ron also had the honour of lighting the Olympic flame at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

Posted at 16:20     [Perma-Link]

Mottram eats pizza

AUSTRALIAN middle-distance runner Craig Mottram can join Asafa Powell in the "life is all about balance" category.

The Eye got an interesting insight into Mottram's action plan just days out from his 5000m race on Monday night.

Richmond-based Mottram, who has applied for an exemption to stay out of the athletes' village, was seen leaving Richmond's Crust takeaway joint with a big steaming pizza in hand.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 12:14     [Perma-Link]
 Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

Jana is a silly girl

Raelene Boyle believes Jana Pittman's decision to pull out of the Queen's Baton relay is just the latest in a series of bad decisions.

JANA Pittman has backed herself into a corner and every move she seems to make from that position is the wrong one. Her decision to pull out of her pivotal part in the Queen's baton relay is very sad and another silly move in a series of silly moves.

I'm told Jana has injury concerns or concerns about her body. She could have walked her leg of the relay late yesterday. All that was required of her was 400 or 500 metres of a very slow jog or, as I said, a walk.

I suspect the real reason had more to do with emotional concerns — she was worried about how Melburnians would respond to her. Maybe she thought she'd get booed. She might have had some fool have a go at her but if you live in public life that's something you have to put up with, inconsequential people who have nothing to do but pick on celebrities.

Jana has to be tougher than that. She has got to stop worrying about what other people think about her. I saw her on television the other day and she had this sad little "poor me" face. Laugh Jana. Smile. Mix it up a little. Surprise people, keep them guessing.

If you consider all the incidents that have dogged her in recent times, they are all pretty inconsequential but they all add up to one big issue.

I really felt that all that rubbish had been put behind her. We had the rubbish of the two silly girls bitching at each other when one of them — and I'm talking about Jana — is a genuinely talented athlete with a truly bright future and we had all that rubbish going on.

Complete article at

Posted at 14:04     [Perma-Link]

Georgie Clarke runs for kids

Kate Sheahan

OLYMPIAN Georgie Clarke is making a comeback to competitive racing after six months sidelined with injury.

The middle-distance runner will make her return in the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids on April 9.
Clarke, Australia's leading female 1500m runner, sustained two stress fractures to her lower back last year, robbing her of the chance to compete in the Games in front of a hometown crowd.

But she resumed training four weeks ago and hopes she can remain injury-free so she can join thousands of other Victorians to help raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Clarke won't be ready to run the 14.7km course, which takes entrants over the Bolte Bridge and through the Domain Tunnel.

She will instead complete the alternative 4.5km course, starting at Docklands and ending at the Royal Children's Hospital.

The 21-year-old athlete said she loved kids and one day would love to help raise awareness of childhood obesity.

"This event will be really good because I am interested in children's health.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 13:06     [Perma-Link]

Red-hot Mottram eyes gold

Scott Gullan
March 13, 2006

IT started as just another track session, one he's done hundreds of times before without a minimum of fuss. Craig Mottram wasn't expecting much as he stepped on to Llanberis track in Ballarat last Tuesday.

He had been based there for the past three weeks rounding off his Commonwealth Games preparations with the next hour or so more about fine-tuning than anything spectacular.

The session started with a 1km time trial followed by 5x300m and 1x200m. As it progressed Mottram could sense something happening and when he found himself cruising home in the 200m – almost two seconds faster than expected while casually chatting away to his training partner, England's Mo Farah – suddenly it dawned on him.

He was ready to win gold.

"It was weird but it just happened," Mottram explains. "I trained hard in Ballarat and each time I went to the track there I was tired and fatigued and it wasn't coming as easy as I would have liked.

"Then on Tuesday it was there, it clicked and I knew I was ready."

Complete article at the Courier Mail

Posted at 11:04     [Perma-Link]
 Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

Go Darth for a cause


GEARING up for the latest fun run in town has taken on a new meaning.

Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed person and best-dressed team in the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids on April 9.
Starting at the Docklands, fancy-dress competitors will tough it out with thousands of other runners as they cross the Bolte Bridge, travel through the Domain tunnel, and finish at the Royal Children's Hospital.

The race will officially launch the Good Friday Appeal: $20 from every $25, 14.7km run entry and $15 from every $20, 4.5km run entry goes to the appeal.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 16:01     [Perma-Link]

Mottram can cap Landy's legendary pick-me-up

Steve Cram
Tuesday March 14, 2006
The Guardian

This week sees the 50th anniversary of one of the iconic moments in Australian sporting history. In 1956 John Landy, the world record holder, was running the mile at the National Championships in Melbourne when he clipped the heels of Ron Clarke. Clarke tumbled to the track and the field - except Landy - raced on. Landy, in a move unlikely to be seen today, offered help but Clarke told him he was not hurt, accepted his apology and urged him to give chase.

The pack was 60 metres ahead but with a breathtaking last lap Landy overhauled the leaders 10 metres from the finish in a time that suggested the world record would have gone had he not stopped. An image of the incident was voted the sporting photograph of the century by a win-conscious nation.
Later that year the MCG hosted the Olympics with Landy taking the athletes' oath and Clarke lighting the flame. The two men never won Olympic gold but 50 years on at the Commonwealth Games Australia is ready to embrace an addition to its small band of middle-distance legends.

On Monday most of the 85,000 fans at the MCG will be eagerly anticipating the men's 5,000m and the appearance of Craig "Buster" Mottram. In Ian Thorpe's absence from the pool this tall, powerful former triathlete has a chance to push himself and his sport back into Australia's sporting consciousness.

Mottram's success against the Kenyans and Ethiopians should be enjoyed and admired. He has thrust himself to the forefront of an event dominated by African athletes for so long. His bronze at last summer's world championships was the first non-African medal in the 5,000m since 1987. His knowledge and prowess have developed since and last summer he added the Australian mile record to his list of achievements.

Complete article at The Guardian

Posted at 15:56     [Perma-Link]

Mottram can cap Landy's legendary pick-me-up

Steve Cram
Tuesday March 14, 2006
The Guardian

This week sees the 50th anniversary of one of the iconic moments in Australian sporting history. In 1956 John Landy, the world record holder, was running the mile at the National Championships in Melbourne when he clipped the heels of Ron Clarke. Clarke tumbled to the track and the field - except Landy - raced on. Landy, in a move unlikely to be seen today, offered help but Clarke told him he was not hurt, accepted his apology and urged him to give chase.

The pack was 60 metres ahead but with a breathtaking last lap Landy overhauled the leaders 10 metres from the finish in a time that suggested the world record would have gone had he not stopped. An image of the incident was voted the sporting photograph of the century by a win-conscious nation.
Later that year the MCG hosted the Olympics with Landy taking the athletes' oath and Clarke lighting the flame. The two men never won Olympic gold but 50 years on at the Commonwealth Games Australia is ready to embrace an addition to its small band of middle-distance legends.

On Monday most of the 85,000 fans at the MCG will be eagerly anticipating the men's 5,000m and the appearance of Craig "Buster" Mottram. In Ian Thorpe's absence from the pool this tall, powerful former triathlete has a chance to push himself and his sport back into Australia's sporting consciousness.

Mottram's success against the Kenyans and Ethiopians should be enjoyed and admired. He has thrust himself to the forefront of an event dominated by African athletes for so long. His bronze at last summer's world championships was the first non-African medal in the 5,000m since 1987. His knowledge and prowess have developed since and last summer he added the Australian mile record to his list of achievements.

Complete article at The Guardian

Posted at 15:51     [Perma-Link]

Buster's battle with self belief

The starting line of a 5000m final can be a frightening place, but Craig Mottram needn't be nervous, writes Jessica Halloran.

On a thin chain dangling around Craig "Buster" Mottram's neck is a slice of silver with a bold "B" embossed on it. The pendant rests on his chest about 10 centimetres from his heart, which will be thumping like crazy on race day. "It's going to be f---ing stressful," he says. With his toes at the edge of the 5000 metres start line, Buster will talk to the pendant to cool it all down.

"Relax," Mottram will whisper in his mind.

"You can't make it so serious. If you don't win, the world's not going to cave in. You can do this race and regardless of how it goes, you can go back to how life was. You'll go home and there'll still be milk in the fridge. It's just a running race … it's just a running race."

If he could, he'd take the chunky wad of scribbled notes he files after every arduous session on the Mordialloc athletic track. When he flips through his training diary, he says he gains confidence he has done the work to be the best in the 5000m.

"But you can't take that out and run around with it because you'd look like an idiot," Mottram says.

Before his lanky pale legs line up in front of thousands packing the stadium, in the guts of the MCG he'll silently mill with the Kenyans and world champion Benjamin Limo. The most they'll say to each other is "jumbo". That means "hello" in Swahili.

It's there in the call room that Mottram will feel lonely. He needs some company. He needs some confidence. That's why he has B.

Complete article at

Posted at 12:29     [Perma-Link]
 Friday, March 10, 2006 

Mottram Magic in Melbourne

By David Tarbotton

Asafa Powell was the headline act at Melbourne Olympic Park, but it was Melbourne’s Craig Mottram who left fans with the most indelible memory at the Telstra A-series tonight.

In a night that demonstrated the strength of the opposition at the Commonwealth Games, Benita Johnson was left perplexed after a last lap fade-out and Jana Pittman withdrew prior to the 400m hurdles, not wanting to risk a tight hamstring just a week before the Games.

Craig Mottram returned from his Ballarat training base for his final race before the Games, a specially requested 2000m in which he had his eyes firmly focused on the 1994 Australian record of Simon Doyle 5:00.84

After going through the mile in 3:57 he produced a stunning last lap to stop the clock at 4:50.76 to bring the crowd to its feet.

His time a new Australian and Oceania record and the eighth fastest time in history.

"Its fantastic I thought I was a chance I could run 4:50 and with 20 metres to go I thought I was a chance to sneak under there." His preparation for the games looked well on track. "I have been in Ballarat training hard and haven’t backed off that much so it’s even more surprising."

The World’s fastest human, Asafa Powell, exploded out of the blocks, then coasted to victory in the men’s 100m. There was unsteadiness and a break before the race got away.

Racing in his first 100m for seven months Powell looked superb, bursting to the lead and then coasting to the line to record 10.29 second into a -1.2 mps headwind

"I’m Feeling good right now, I was quite nervous, I haven’t been on the track for almost a year now," Powell said.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

Posted at 10:12     [Perma-Link]

Benita puzzled at lack of zip

Damian Barrett

ONE day after assuming favouritism for the Commonwealth Games 10,000m, Australia's Benita Johnson last night left Olympic Park worried about even reaching the start line.

A disastrous performance in the Telstra A-series 3000m mystified Johnson and her connections, including coach Nic Bideau.
She could manage only seventh in an event in which she was considered a certainty to place.

The flop overshadowed an extraordinary performance by Tasmania's Donna MacFarlane, whose 8min 50.65sec winning time was a personal best by 30 seconds.

MacFarlane, who will run in the 3000m steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games, out-sprinted Eloise Wellings and Kate McIlroy.

Steeplechaser Melissa Rollison was fourth.

Johnson was nine seconds slower than MacFarlane and was without answers for her poor performance.

"That was disappointing, I don't know what happened, I came here wanting to run better than that," Johnson said after the race.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 10:07     [Perma-Link]

Craig Mottram easily bags record

Scott Gullan

THE Commonwealth Games can't come quickly enough for Australian middle-distance star Craig Mottram after he obliterated another national record last night.

Mottram came to Olympic Park determined to break Simon Doyle's 1992 2000m Australian record and he didn't just better it, he smashed it by more than 10 seconds, stopping the clock at 4min 50.76sec.

He now owns the Australian records for the mile, 2km, 3km and 5km.

"It's fantastic, I thought there was a chance I could run 4:50 and with 20m to go I thought there was a chance I could sneak up there," Mottram said.

"That would have been really special but I can't complain. I have been to Ballarat training hard and haven't backed off that much actually, so that is even more surprising."

Mottram now goes into the Games full of confidence for his 5000m showdown with Kenya's world champion Benjamin Limo, the man who relegated him to the bronze medal at the world championships in Helsinki last year.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 08:47     [Perma-Link]
 Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Kenyan training route ends on tollway

Michael Warner

A CITYLINK rescue car had to save six Kenyan athletes discovered running along the Tullamarine tollway at daybreak.

Bemused surveillance staff detected the Commonwealth Games teammates charging against oncoming traffic on a city-bound emergency lane about 5am on Tuesday.
A CityLink spokeswoman said the Africans, dressed in their national team colours, strayed on to the tollway after setting out on an early-morning run from the nearby Parkville athletes' village.

Four of the six Kenyans, none of whom speak English, were flagged down near the tollway's Moreland Rd off-ramp.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 11:12     [Perma-Link]

Australia's premier athletics hits Melbourne TONIGHT

The 19th edition of Australia’s premier athletics meeting promises to be one of its best with a stellar line-up chock-full of head-to head clashes that will produce a virtual Commonwealth Games in a night at Olympic Park.

The Telstra A-series meeting doubles as the opening event in the new IAAF World Tour, the new world circuit of one day athletics’ meetings.

After criss-crossing the globe in the coming months, the 24-meet circuit will conclude at the 4th IAAF World Athletics Final which takes place in Stuttgart, Germany for the first time on 9 – 10 September 2006.

155 athletes from 20 countries will compete, alongside most members of the Australian Commonwealth Games team.

Melbourne’s Craig Mottram will have his sights on the Australian record for the rarely run 2000m in his final race before launching an assault on the Kenyans over 5000m at the Commonwealth Games.

Mottram has specifically requested the 2000m distance and will have his sights set on Simon Doyle’s Australian and Australian all-comers record of 5:00.84 set in Sydney in 1994.

Mottram will have some stiff competition, with Sydney Olympic Games steeplechase champion Reuben Kosgei providing the first of the Kenyan challengers this month.

If the men’s 2000m promises to be a race against the clock, the women’s 3000m shapes as the highlight of the middle distance program in Melbourne.

World Cross Country Champion Benita Johnson will sharpen her speed for the 10000m at the Games, now without England’s Paula Radcliffe, and will challenge her own national record in the 3000m. She will meet a rampaging Sarah Jamieson who is close to, if not in, the best form of her career. They will face a battle with England’s Jo Pavey who was fifth over 5000m at the Athens Olympic Games, was the fifth fastest in the world last year and boasts a personal best over 3000m of 8:31.27, compared to Jamieson’s at 8:49.46 and Johnson’s 8:38.06.

Add Eliose Wellings who raced to a 5000m personal best at the Melbourne Cricket ground and in form steeplechasers Melissa Rollison and Donna McFarlane and Scotland’s Liz McColgan’s 1990 Australian all-comers record of 8:43.14 is under threat.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

Posted at 11:10     [Perma-Link]

Johnson learns to relax


SEWING, creative writing, psychologists and a life coach.

They have all come together to produce a new, more relaxed Benita Johnson for the Commonwealth Games.

Australia's distance star revealed yesterday she had done a lot of soul searching after her disastrous 2005 season in order to resurrect her career.

"Certainly I have been a bit too caught up in the moment and now I am a lot more relaxed with a lot of things in my life," Johnson said.

"This has helped my athletics come forward a long way because now it's not the biggest thing.

"If I don't run well it's not like we're going to a funeral the next day, life goes on."

After injury ruined her Athens Olympics, the world cross-country champion again had health issues at last year's world championships which forced her to cut short her European season and return home looking for answers.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 11:09     [Perma-Link]

My heart set on racing Paula

Scott Gullan

DISTANCE star Benita Johnson has compared the impact of Paula Radcliffe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth Games to the absence of swimming star Ian Thorpe.

"I think it is a significant blow," Johnson said. "I think it is just as big a blow as not having Thorpey in the swimming. She is a superstar in the sport and she's proved it time and time again over the last few years."

Johnson, who will now start the gold medal favourite in the 10,000m, was shattered when her coach, Nic Bideau, rang late on Tuesday night to tell her that Radcliffe was pulling out because of a foot injury.

"It is really disappointing because I was looking forward to racing Paula," she said.

"She is the world's best distance runner at the moment so to have her coming over to Melbourne and getting the opportunity to race her when I'm in really good shape is something I was looking forward to and training for."

The 2004 world cross-country champion said while the loss of Radcliffe may take some "gloss" off the event, it wouldn't diminish her feat if she won the gold medal.

"If I win it will still mean a lot to me," Johnson said. "I have never won a medal at a major championships on the track and that in itself is a huge motivation for me to win a medal. I've won (bronze) on the road at the world half-marathon and I've won at world cross, so to do it here is a huge achievement in itself."

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 11:08     [Perma-Link]
 Wednesday, March 08, 2006 

Final workout on track

Wednesday, March 8

GEELONG trio Craig Mottram, Louis Rowan and Nathan Deakes will have their final hit-out before next week's Commonwealth Games tomorrow night at Olympic Park.
Distance stars Mottram and Rowan will line up in the 2000m event at the IAAF World Series meet, while Deakes will step it out in the 5000m walk.

Mottram, who has been training in Ballarat, has set his sights on adding the Australian record over 2km to his name.

The record, held by Simon Doyle since 1994, stands at 5:00.84 minutes.

Should Mottram crack a record time, it will make him the fastest Australian over the mile, 2km, 3km and 5km distances.

The world championship bronze medallist will have plenty of international talent pushing him to the line.

Steeplechase champion Reuben Kosgei of Kenya, New Zealanders Michael Aish and Adrian Blincoe, England's Stuart Stokes and Mo Farrah and Canada's Matthew Kerr headline his major competition.

Complete article at Geelong Info

Posted at 16:15     [Perma-Link]

Run for kids set to sizzle


MIX FM's Bachelor Boys are gearing up to party.

On Sunday, April 9, they will join athletes, AFL players, celebrities and competitors at the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids post-race carnival.
Preparing to man the sausage sizzle, the Bachelor Boys will help competitors celebrate the completion of the inaugural race that will take participants from Docklands to the Royal Children's Hospital.

With live on-air crosses, giveaways and the chance to rub shoulders with Cathy Freeman, Steve Moneghetti and Jennifer Adams, there are plenty of reasons to stick around after the race.

A festival environment with two kids' zones and a range of food stalls will provide an enjoyable day for competitors of all ages from 9am to noon.

The post-race carnival will be held next to the RCH off Flemington Rd at Royal Park South.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 15:34     [Perma-Link]

Paula Radcliffe joins Thorpe on sidelines


WORLD marathon champion Paula Radcliffe and superstar swimmer Ian Thorpe have both pulled out of this month's Commonwealth Games, depriving the 71-nation event of two of its biggest stars.

England's Radcliffe announced her withdrawal because of a foot injury which has restricted her training just hours after Thorpe had revealed that he would not be competing in Melbourne because of illness.

Radcliffe, winner of the 5000m gold medal at the last Games in Manchester four years ago, had been a strong favourite to win the 10,000m this time around while Thorpe was widely expected to add to the 10 gold medals he collected at Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and Manchester in 2002.

Thorpe and Radcliffe were arguably the two best-known figures among the 4500 contestants due to be in Melbourne for the March 15-26 Games.

Radcliffe, 32, has been suffering from the foot injury since January and has been unable to prepare properly on the track at her training base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, her husband and manager, Gary Lough, revealed.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 09:18     [Perma-Link]
 Tuesday, March 07, 2006 

Records in Sights of Melbourne's Middle Distance Stars

7 March 2006 | 1.00pm

Melbourne’s Craig Mottram will have his sights on the Australian record for the rarely run 2000m in his final race before launching an assault on the Kenyans over 5000m at the Commonwealth Games.

Mottram has specifically requested the 2000m distance and will have his sights set on Simon Doyle’s Australian and Australian all-comers record of 5:00.84 set in Sydney in 1994.

Mottram will have some stiff competition, with Sydney Olympic Games steeplechase champion Reuben Kosgei providing the first of the Kenyan challengers this month.

US-based New Zealanders Michael Aish and Adrian Blincoe, English steeplechaser Stuart Stokes, MCG 5000m winner Mo Farrah, and Canada’s Matthew Kerr will provide the international opposition. Commonwealth Games team member Louis Rowan will also round off his Games preparation in the event.

The John Landy Mile will take place exactly one day shy of the 50th anniversary (10th March) of one of Australia’s most famous sporting events – the 1956 Australian Championships in which Ron Clarke fell, only to have Landy return to assist him to his feet before speeding to victory.

The race will see Brisbane 1500m win Nick McCormick (ENG) in a re-match with 2nd place getter Paul Hamblyn (NZL) and Youcef Abdi, who finished third in a very tight finish. Two of Kenya’s young Commonwealth Games contingent will also race with Haron Keitany and Jonathon Komen set to follow in the footsteps of some famous Kenyans at Olympic Park.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

Posted at 16:30     [Perma-Link]

World Rogaining Championship Warrumbungles Australia 2006

The Commonwealth Games is not the only international sporting event coming to Australia this year. In October, enthusiasts will gather in north-western New South Wales for the 7th World Rogaining Championships.

This unique endurance and bush navigation sport was home grown in Australia in 1976 and exported across the globe. The first world championships were held in Victoria in 1992, and rogaining has become popular in New Zealand, the USA, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Ireland, Canada and Russia.

Rogaining is a sport for teams of two to five people, travelling on foot and navigating with map and compass to control points of various values, scoring points at each control point. Each team develops their own strategy and visits as many control points as they can in a set time period, in the order of their choice. At the finish teams are ranked according to their score and finish time.

The World Championships are being organised by the NSW Rogaining Association, under the auspices of the International Rogaining Federation. A spectacular location has been selected - in and around the Warrumbungle National Park near the town of Coonabarabran, about 6 hours by road from Sydney. The course will be set by the current Australian champion Mike Hotchkis and is bound to be challenging and interesting.

The top teams might travel more than 100 km during the 24 hour event, but all comers are welcome to what must be the most inclusive world champs around. Team categories include male, female, mixed, open, junior, veterans, super veterans and family. The clock starts at high noon on Friday 13 October and finishes at noon on Saturday 14 October, 2006.

Entries opening the week beginning the 6th of March 2006. For full details see the 7WRC 2006 website at

Posted at 07:17     [Perma-Link]
 Monday, March 06, 2006 

Runners well hydrated in Canberra Marathon

Runners will have no problems with hydration in the 30th Canberra Marathon. The marathon, to be held on Sunday 9 April, will be the first marathon in Australia to provide all on-course refreshments in plastic sachets.

The sachets have been widely used in all major marathons and ultra marathons in South Africa for many years but were only introduced to Australia last year.

The Canberra Marathon trialled the sachets at some drink stations in 2005 and the feedback from runners was very positive.

"This year we have decided to go a couple of steps further," said drink station manager Jim McLean. "We will provide all water and sports drinks at all drink stations in the sachets."

Sports drink manufacturer pb sports nutrition and sachet manufacturer Jackal are working together to package the sports drinks for consumption on the Canberra course.

Complete article at Athletics Australia

Posted at 09:01     [Perma-Link]
 Friday, March 03, 2006 

Youcef Abdi claims AA racist

Sydney distance runner Youcef Abdi believes racism is behind his inexplicable omission from Australia's athletics team to the world cross-country championships.

"The only thing I can think is that my name is not Tom, Dick or Harry," said Algeria-born Abdi.

A surprise last-stride bronze medallist in the 1500m at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games for Australia, Abdi has since concentrated on running the 3000m steeplechase in which he will represent the home team at the Melbourne Games.

But he dearly wanted to compete at the world cross-country championship in Fukuoka, Japan, on April 1-2 in the 4km event – the last time the short-course race will be staged for men.

He dominated the Australian championship in the steeplechase last month and one would have thought if you were selecting for a broken-rhythm event like cross-country, the first person you would consider would be a steeplechaser.

The Australian women's cross-country team includes three steeplechasers but Abdi has been unable to gain any suitable explanation from Athletics Australia for his own omission.

"I had heard before the team became public that I had missed out so I rang AA and I was told me I was not picked because I missed the last national cross-country championship," Abdi said.

"I reminded AA that I was competing in Europe at that time, that only one of the women in the team competed in the national cross-country race, and that some of the men on the team had not run the national cross-country, or achieved even the minimum time listed in the selection criteria.

"If it's not racial, if there is logic to their thinking why could they not reply?"

Complete article at The Daily Telegraph

Posted at 01:19     [Perma-Link]
 Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

Minister running for the kids

Nick Higginbottom

STATE Health Minister Bronwyn Pike is stepping up her training for the Herald Sun/CityLink Run for the Kids.

Ms Pike will join thousands in Melbourne's new and unique fun run on April 9 as they cross the Bolte Bridge and travel through the Domain tunnel.
Finishing at the Royal Children's Hospital, the run will officially launch the Good Friday Appeal.

Participants can choose from a 14.7km or a 4.5km course, but Ms Pike is still to decide.

Complete article at the Herald Sun

Posted at 10:01     [Perma-Link]

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