Great Day: 17-year-old wins sprint double
RILEY Day will go to her home-state Commonwealth Games reminding herself she is "only 17'' after racing to automatic selection in the 200m which clinched the sprint double at the Australian athletics championships.
Day, from Beaudesert, continued to grow up before our eyes with a massive personal best time of 22.93sec into a 1.7m/sec headwind under the stern pressure of having to produce on the last day of competition in which to make sure of an individual race at April's Gold Coast Games.
Brisbane's Alex Hartmann grabbed Games automatic selection for the 200m from his seat in the last-chance saloon, lifting a fourth national title in the event title.
Day is certain now to race in the 200m and 4x100m relay at the Gold Coast Games and does not expect to be a discretionary selection for the 100m because she does not have a qualifying time.
Athletics Australia mostly considers only athletes to have met at least a Games B-standard for individual selection, but a clause in its Games nomination principles allow for amendments "at any time with the approval of the CGA (Commonwealth Games Australia) … for any other reason determined to be in the best interests'' of AA.
"It's the icing on the cake - national champion, A-qualifier, a PB. I couldn't ask for anything more,'' a jubilant Day said.
"My PB was 23.26 (for the 200m), so it's a fairly big drop for a sprinter.
"It's definitely a big competition (the Games) but I have to keep reminding myself I am only 17. There are 26 or older and I have hopefully a long way to way towards my best.
"If you asked me 12 months ago where I'd be (now) I wouldn't have told you any of the places I've gone to and how I've succeeded.
"I still have a love-hate relationship with the 200m. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't love it so much. I've never loved the sport more.''
Victorian Maddie Coates (23.06) booked a 200m berth by finishing second in a Games A-qualifying time.
Hartmann's fourth 200m Australian title leaves him only one behind the late Peter Norman's record in the event nationally, and his time in the final of 20.57 (headwind 2.1m/s) finally landed a Games B-qualifying time on the last day of the 13-month qualifying period.
It encouraged Hartmann, 24, to speak, as he had done prior to his ill-fated 2016 Rio Olympics campaign, about taking his 20.45 personal-best down to erase Norman's 1968 national record of 20.06.
"It's the best run of my life into that headwind,'' said Hartmann, who will also run in Australia's 4x100m relay team.
"That's a massive confidence booster. If the wind would have turned out, the time could have been incredible - I've said before that Peter Norman's record is something I have my eye on. I talk about it with my coach (Travis Venema) quite a lot.
"On the warm-up track today, Travis was saying that he's seen me train and I have the potential to do it. Only time will tell.''
The rangy Hartmann did not get out of the heats of the Rio Olympics 200m and admits he took 12 months to overcome the disappointment.
"I didn't deliver and ran quite poorly. The reality sunk in, but the team I have around me told me to re-focus and get over Rio. The Comm Games is enormous and I didn't want to miss this one.''