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Starc bolts in to high jump final

15 August 2016

ATHLETICS: Brandon Starc qualified for the final of the men’s jump just moments after watching Jamaica’s Usain Bolt become the first person in Olympic history to claim three consecutive 100m gold medals.

The men’s high jump qualifying was temporarily placed on hold as Bolt ran 9.81 seconds and into athletics immortality.

Starc was watching on trackside as the stadium exploded into celebration, but the Australian was able to maintain his focus and shortly after cleared 2.29 metres to seal his place in the final.

Fellow Aussie Joel Baden, competing in his first Olympics, cleared 2.17m, but was eliminated after failing to clear 2.22m.

“I thought I was doing quite well and then it came to 29 and there were a fair few people in,” said Starc, the brother of cricketer Mitchell Starc.

“I think sometimes three jumps isn’t enough. I thought it was the last jump of the night, everyone was going home after that so I thought I don’t want to end it here so I gave it all and luckily I got over.

“I didn’t realise the world record for the 400m was broken.

“I realised there was a lot of noise, then the 100m as well, it was a big night and I’m glad I was a part of it.

“They all ran past us, all the photographers were then in our way, but it was great to watch.”

On making the final, Starc added: “Anything can happen in the final. It should be interesting.

“I think I’m in good shape to jump well, I’m hopefully better than last year.

“I think I’ve matured and grown as an athlete since then, so I’ll go back, recover and come back in two days’ time.”

On the track, Aussies Morgan Mitchell, Anneliese Rubie, Linden Hall, Zoe Buckman and Jenny Blundell did Australia proud in their respective semi-finals at Rio’s Olympic Stadium tonight.

Morgan and Rubie (women’s 400m), Hall, Blundell and Buckman (women’s 1500m) each made valiant attempts to progress to the finals.

Australia’s last finalist in the women’s 400m was gold medallist Cathy Freeman at the Sydney 2000 Games but the future looks in good hands with Mitchell and Rubie, who both produced strong efforts in their respective semi-finals.

Morgan was outstanding in her heat but couldn’t match her performance in the semi-finals, finishing eighth in a time of 52.68 seconds after conceding she raced out too hard early in pursuit of American Natasha Hastings.

“It’s a new experience but I can only look forward can’t I,” Morgan said.

“Still get to call myself an Olympian, hopefully Tokyo (2020) will be a lot better.

“I thought I was doing the right thing to be honest, but trying to match up against a girl who can run 49.1 is hard.

“I thought I had her but I didn’t get myself enough space between her and I knew I went out too hard and I just thought look we’re here now, I can’t slow down otherwise it’ll be worse, just give it your all.

“It’s just a learning experience, I think it was good, I’m glad that happened. Sucks that it happened on the biggest stage in the world but I think I needed that. I’ve just got bigger things to look forward to now, I’ve got the relay, might relax, play some basketball and just wind down for a bit.”

Rubie faced a tough task of progressing from a race that included Shaunae Miller (Bahamas) and Allyson Felix (USA) but fought on well in the straight to finish sixth in a time of 51.96. Both Felix and Miller ran sub-50 to qualify for the final.

“I’m kind of happy with it, kind of disappointed with it,”  Rubie said.

I’m happy that I got out there and gave it my all.

“I’m happy with how I ran, just unhappy it wasn’t a little bit quicker.”

Rubie and Mitchell will now spearhead the women’s 4x400m relay team.

Australia’s trio in the women’s 1500m semi-finals were aiming to become our first finalists in the event since Margaret Crowley at the 1996 Atlanta Games but had their work cut out in two world-class semi-finals.

Hall was the best of the Australians, finishing eighth in her semi-final in 4:05.81, just in front of Buckman in ninth in 4:06.95. Blundell finished 11th in the second semi-final in 4:13.25.

“It was the most amazing atmosphere ever, something I will never forget,” Hall said.

“But the race itself was pretty frustrating, I just felt like I never had a clear run.

“Every time I felt like I could get out I just got shot back out the back.”

In a sensational night of record breaking athletics, South African Wayde Van Niekerk arguably stole the show from Bolt with a new world record to win the men’s 400m final, clocking 43.03. It eclipsed the mark of 43.18 set by the great Michael Johnson, of the USA, in 1999.

David Taylor

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