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Pearson fourth in Diamond League

1 July 2013

ATHLETICS: Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld), Australian half marathon record holder Collis Birmingham (Vic) and former world champion Dani Samuels (NSW) were the best of the Australians at Round 7 of the IAAF Diamond League in Birmingham late this evening, as a green and gold contingent of nine battled it out with the world’s best.
 
Starting in lane five, Pearson (fourth, 12.73, w: -0.5) was neck-and-neck with eventual women’s 100m hurdles winner Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA, first, 12.64) until the 2012 Diamond League victor broke away at the final hurdle. The Olympic champion Pearson was left to battle it out for a minor place, and was edged out for second by Kellie Wells (USA, 12.67) and for third by Tiffany Porter (GBR, 12.73, SB).
 
Pearson, who won in Ostrava just days ago in a season best 12.67, is scheduled to race again in Lausanne on Thursday as the IAAF Diamond League continues. She will then compete in a further four races as she pushes to improve her race fitness before attending the scheduled Australian Flame team camp in Tonbridge ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
 
Competing in the final event on the schedule, Birmingham was very competitive across the men’s 5000m, with his current form again highlighted as he moved to quicken the pace of the race by moving to the front of the pack at the 2800m mark.
 
Remaining in the mix until shortly prior to the sound of the bell when dual Olympic champion Mo Farah (GBR, first, 13:14.24) put his foot down to storm home in a sub-54 second final lap, Birmingham crossed 8th overall in 13:29.53.
 
Birmingham’s performance continues a big year for the Ballarat-based distance charge, with his 2013 highlights including an eighth placing at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, a new 10km road personal best from the Healthy Kidney 10km in New York and a new Australian record in the half marathon.
 
Pearson and Birmingham were joined on track by James Kaan (NSW), Zoe Buckman (ACT) and Kelly Hetherington (Vic), with the national championship winning trio crossing 10th (3:04.07), 11th (4:08.48) and 5th (2:02.13) in the men’s 1500m, women’s 1500m, and women’s 800m respectively.
 
In an unfortunate result, national champion Genevieve LaCaze (Qld) was forced to withdraw from the women’s 3000m steeplechase after falling at the water jump just after the half way mark of the race. The first placed athlete behind the lead pack at the time of the fall, LaCaze was on track for an impressive opening to her European campaign before her stumble.
 
Competing in the women’s discus throw, Samuels, who is the 2009 world champion, launched her European season with a 61.28m throw to finish fourth behind current world leader and Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic (CZE, first, 64.17m), American champion Gia Lewis-Smallwood (USA, second, 62.46m) and Olympic finalist Anna Ruh (GER, third, 62.14m).
 
Samuels opened with a foul before propelling the disc to her best mark the following throw to sit second overall after two rounds. A 60.89m throw followed, as did two fouls and 60.38m to close.
 
Boasting an IAAF World Championships A-Qualifier that will see her considered for Australian Flame selection at the Final Selectors Meeting on 29 July, the 25-year-old is next scheduled to compete at Round 8 of the IAAF Diamond League in Lausanne (SUI) this coming Thursday.
 
Joining Samuels in field action was national high jump champion Brandon Starc (NSW) and Australian pole vault record holder Alana Boyd (Qld).
 
Sailing over 2.21m on his third attempt, the 20-year-old Starc was unable to advance any further and settled for 7th place. His performance is a six-centimetre improvement on his 2.15m mark from the 52nd Golden Spike just days ago. Boyd was unable to record a height in the women’s pole vault after entering the competition at the opening measurement of 4.23m, with Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva (CUB) winning the event with a 4.73m clearance.
 
In other results from across the weekend:
-        Melissa Breen (ACT) launched her European season with an 11.58 (w: +1.5) run in the women’s 100m at the 27th Meeting International EAP in Nivelles (FRA). She will next compete in both short sprints at the Flanders Cup Meeting in Oordegem (BEL) on 6 July.
-        Regan Lamble (Vic) crossed 4th in the women’s 20km race walk at the second last round of the IAAF World Race Walking Challenge in Dublin (IRL). Her time was 1:35:33, and her place improves on her performance for 7th in Taicing (CHN) earlier this year.

Athletics Australia

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