Report22 Feb 2020

Bol and Deng 800m duel closes Sydney Track Classic


Peter Bol and Joseph Deng after the 800m in Sydney (© Getty Images)

In their best joint domestic display yet, Peter Bol and Joseph Deng closed the Sydney Track Classic, the opening event of the World Athletics Continental Tour, with a one-two in the men’s 800m on Saturday (22).

It wasn’t quite as good as two-by-1:44 at the 2018 Stockholm Diamond League, but Bol’s 1:45.85 to Deng’s 1:45.89 was quite the double act.

Good performances came in clusters throughout the meeting. Eleanor Patterson and Nicola McDermott continued their one-on-one battle in the women’s high jump, both clearing 1.94m on this occasion, followed by several close attempts at 1.97m.

Linden Hall led Jenny Blundell and Georgia Griffith home in the women’s 1500m, charging back up the final straight after the other two had passed her at the 200 on the last lap. And World Championships sixth-place finisher Matt Denny was at the head of three men beyond 60 metres in the discus.

Bol tells Deng what he is going to do – and does it

Peter Bol and Joseph Deng train together under coach Justin Rinaldi. When asked by trackside interviewer Tamsyn Manou how that worked when it came to races, whether they discussed tactics, Bol replied:

“Sure. I told (Joe) on the warm-up track that I was going to go down the back-straight and to stick with me if he could.”

After being paced through the first lap in 50.73, Bol did just as he had said. Neither Deng, nor anyone else, could go with him but Deng moved quickly into a clear second some five metres down.

Bol was still a couple of strides clear coming into the final straight with Deng inching closer stride by stride. At the line, though, it was Bol by centimetres, 1:45.85 to 1:45.89.

The win was a continuation of Bol’s strong domestic form, while Deng, though losing to his training partner for the third time in three races this season, showed he was approaching top form, too.

In third place, 18-year-old Jack Lunn ran another World U20 Championships qualifier with a personal best of 1:47.42.

Patterson and McDermott eye national record

Having both achieved the automatic Olympic qualifying standard in Canberra nine days earlier, Eleanor Patterson and Nicola McDermott set a progression in Sydney to take them beyond the national record 1.98m jointly held by Vanessa Ward and Alison Inverarity. From 1.94m, they would go to 1.97m, then 1.99m.

Simple, really, except you’ve got to clear 1.97m first. Patterson was faultless through 1.94m; McDermott, taking the same heights, had just one miss at 1.94m. But neither could clear when the bar went to 1.97m.

Competition between the two will resume across the Tasman in Wellington next weekend.

Denny continues to chase Tokyo standard

Matt Denny, sixth in Doha last year, continued his pursuit of the 66.00m automatic qualifier for Tokyo in Sydney. He didn’t succeed, but he pulled two others beyond 60 metres in a strong competition.

Having gone 64.22m in Melbourne on 6 February, Denny was pretty well on the same mark in Sydney with a best throw of 64.23m. Teenager Connor Bell of New Zealand was next at 61.12m and Canada’s Jordan young third with 61.02m.

Hall comes back for 1500m win

The women’s 1500m was to be set up at a pace to approach Linden Hall’s national record 4:00.86. It never quite reached that tempo as Anna Laman led through two laps in 2:10.65.

Hall then took over and led until 200 metres to go when Georgia Griffith, who ran 2:00.88 for 800m on 13 February, and Jenny Blundell dashed past.

Entering the final straight, Hall was almost five metres down on the other pair, but as Griffith began to falter she got past her and started to gain on Blundell. Twenty metres out she was back in the lead, taking the win in 4:05.16 from Blundell, 4:05.35, and Griffith, 4:06.35.

“They made it hard for me,” Hall said. “That last 50, I thought I did all that work and I’m going to get something out of it.”

In other events, Alex Hulley threw a personal best 70.55m to take the women’s hammer ahead of an out-of-season Gwen Berry of the USA, 69.33m, and the Sharon Hannan-coached Liz Clay again won the 100m hurdles, this time in 13.01.

Brandon Starc cleared 2.30m to win the men’s high jump and Brooke Stratton went 6.51m in the women’s long jump.

New Zealand’s Tori Peeters made a mess of her previous best in winning the women’s javelin with a throw of 62.04m. Before this year, the 25-year-old had a best of 57.00m. She improved to 59.25m in Canberra on 13 February and added almost another three metres in Sydney.

Len Johnson for World Athletics

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