Athletes take out three gold, one bronze in Samoa
WHILE their rivals wilted in the heat and humidity of Samoa, Townsville athletes Om Halliday and Josh Hall lapped it up.
Sure, they were not exactly comfortable in the conditions, but living and training in North Queensland proved to be an advantage for the pair, who returned from the Oceania Athletics Championships last week proudly showing off three gold medals and one bronze between them.
Hall, 16, showed just why he is considered one of the rising stars of Australian high jump when he claimed gold in the under-18 event with an Oceania recordbreaking leap of 2.03m.
It also broke his previous best of 2.02m set at the National titles in Sydney earlier this year.
However the best was still to come from the year 11 William Ross High School student in the open category of the high jump.
Up against competitors sometimes more than 10 years his senior, Hall smashed his PB from earlier in the carnival with an Oceania record-equalling jump of 2.07m.
Fellow teenager Halliday also recorded personal best times on his way to winning the cross country and taking out third place in the steeple chase.
But after injury restricted the 18-year-old to a lessthan-ideal preparation, he said he was still wondering ‘where he pulled it from’.
With an internationalclass field, including Papua New Guinean Commonwealth Games runner Sapolai Yao, to contend with, Halliday said he was originally just using the cross country to gauge his opposition ahead of the steeplechase, but that soon changed.
‘‘I teamed up with two other runners from Australia and the plan was to box Sapolai in because he was our main competition, but he ended up pulling out at about halfway through,’’ he said.
‘‘From there I was working with the Australian guys and waiting for them to dash off but all of a sudden they dropped off.
‘‘But it was extremely humid and I was more used to it being from Townsville — cycling and running in Townsville is the best race lead up ever.’’
He finished in 26.48mins, 19secs ahead of second-place getter and fellow Aussie Brendan Whelan.
Full of confidence after his opening day win, Halliday again exceeded his expectations in the steeplechase two days later by breaking his PB by 10 seconds to finish in 9.55mins.
In an action-packed race where competitors were ‘dropping like flies’in the Samoan heat, the reigning Townsville Road Runners Club King of the Castle winner finished six seconds behind Yao in second place and a further 24 seconds behind winner Tim Hodge from New Zealand.
PLEASED . . . Oceania Athletics Championship medal winners Om Halliday andJosh Hall pictured after returning to Townsville from Samoa