Mercury (Hobart)

Olympics in Hale’s sights

- LUKE EDMUNDS

LASHED by wild weather all summer, Canberra is bracing for a Hale storm of a different kind at tonight’s Summer Series athletics event.

Peaking Tasmanian sprint star Jack Hale comes into the Canberra Track Classic fresh off a personal best 10.12sec for the 100m in Perth on February 1. Tonight, Hale has the opportunit­y to secure automatic Tokyo 2020 qualificat­ion with a time under 10.05.

“Perth is a nice little confidence booster coming into Canberra,” Hale said yesterday. “We’re talking 50cm [to shave off 0.07sec], so with the perfect race, perfect conditions, perfect competitor­s, it can happen.

“The conditions I’m not sure about but all-in-all, competitor-wise and track-wise it is going to be an awesome race tomorrow and there’s no reason it can’t happen.”

Golf ball-sized hail smashed buildings and cars last month in the nation’s capital, but drizzle is expected to clear for this evening’s 100m sprint.

Hale is up against a quality field including Rohan Browning (NSW), who ran 10.06 in Perth earlier this month.

“It’s [quality opposition] the most important part,” Hale, 21, said. “It’s virtually impossible to run super-fast with no one around you.

“Having competitio­n like this week in week out is amazing and really good prep. At the end of the day sprinting is a sport of competitio­n.

“It’s so hard to race quick by yourself so when it comes to those big meetings and you’re ready to run it generally takes a bit of time off your PBs.”

Hale’s 10.12 in the heats at the Perth Track Classic was the sixth fastest time ever by an Australian. He ran a faster time in the final of 10.10 to finish second to Browning, but an illegal tail wind meant the time did not stand.

Hale is staying cool and relaxed. “It’s [Canberra] going to be one of the last really quick races before nationals,” he said. “It’s not nerves as such, it is more knowing the opportunit­y is there to run fast. And it’s on you to nail it.”

Hale has been training in Melbourne but still considers himself “100 per cent Tasmanian” as he travels the country in the lead-up to the Australian Track and Field Championsh­ips from March 21 at Sydney’s Olympic Park.

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