Ath­letes take out three gold, one bronze in Samoa

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - By ANTONY STE­WART

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

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