News & Updates

8 June 2022 • Track and Field

Brad Mathas and Georgia Hulls secure World Championship spots in Mackay

Brad Mathas cruises to victory in the senior men's 800m and secures a World Championship spot. (Credit: Alan McDonald).

On a memorable day two of the Oceania Area Championships for the New Zealand team, top billing was reserved for Brad Mathas and Georgia Hulls who both booked their ticket for the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon with impressive victories.

Brad Mathas secured his spot by leading home a Kiwi one-two in the senior men’s 800m final at the Mackay Aquatic and Recreation Centre with a comprehensive win.

Just 90 minutes later Georgia Hulls was similarly dominant as she sprinted to an emphatic victory – clocking 23.45 (1.0m/s) to resist the best of the Australian challenge and add her name to the World Championships team.

Brad, 28, who was conditionally selected for the World Championships, turned that into an unconditional status by cruising to victory in 1:53.60 ahead of Michael Dawson (1:55.37).

It was a relatively routine win for the Melbourne-based athlete, who hails from Whanganui, but one of so much significance for the 2018 Commonwealth Games fifth-place finisher.

An elated Brad said: “I’m stoked. Really happy to confirm my spot for Eugene, it’s been a goal of mine since (2018) Comm Games to pull on the Black Singlet. I’ve had issues with injuries which have hampered my campaigns but it has been awesome to put it together today to confirm my spot.

“I had a lot more weight on this race, so there were a lot of nerves on it. But I got the job done.”

Brad will next travel to Europe and base himself in Germany to finetune his preparations for the World Championships.

Georgia had suffered a hiccup in the morning heats, finishing a well-beaten second Bree Masters bounced back to deliver when it mattered most in the final. Rounding the bend the Hawke’s Bay-raised sprinter held a clear lead and simply kicked clear of her rivals to take top spot – 0.37 clear of Australian champion Ella Connolly.

Georgia said: “I’m elated, relieved but very happy. Earlier today it was a classic heat, I went in very relaxed and eased off at the end and start too.

“I had to gee myself up for the final, try to stay in touch and run right through to the end. It feels good to beat those girls because there are such great runners.”

Georgia will head back to New Zealand for a few days before flying out to France to train with New Zealand 400m hurdles record-holder Portia Bing.

On the World Championships she said: “I just want to enjoy it and take it all in. Performance wise I haven’t thought too much about it (World Champs), I guess to beat my ranking and make the semi-finals.”

A clearance of 4.50m by Olivia McTaggart led home a New Zealand one-two in the women’s pole vault from training partner Imogen Ayris.

After the Kiwi duo cleared 4.40m at the second time of asking, Olivia seized control with a first time clearance at 4.50m. Despite a narrow failure with her third attempt, 4.50m was beyond Imogen today and she had to settle for silver.

Olivia, who like Imogen has been selected to compete at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and conditionally selected for the World Championships, raised the bar to 4.60m but in tough windy conditions she could not quite nail that height.

A satisfied Olivia, who won a pole vault silver medal at the previous edition of the Oceania Area Championships three years ago, said: Keeping it plain and simple I had so much fun out there. The last few trainings have not gone that well and I didn’t even get a jump in at warm up today, so to get a 4.50m today in not ideal conditions I have got to be happy.

“I really wanted to get that 4.60m but I am saving it for the next big one. It is awesome to win gold, three years ago I got the silver and since then I’ve learned a lot as an athlete and as a pole vaulter so to come away with the gold and the Oceania title is awesome.”

New Zealand basked in the glow of a blizzard of medals and their current strength in depth of female 400m running was demonstrated as national one-lap champion Rosie Elliott edged Isabel Neal in a trademark tussle between the duo.

Rosie proved just the stronger to win the senior women’s 400m title in 52.97 by 0.50 from Isabel, who was rewarded with silver. The 2021 New Zealand champion Camryn Smart finished an agonising 0.19 outside of bronze to place fourth behind Aussie Jessica Thornton.

Rosie said of adding the Oceania 400m title to the New Zealand one-lap title in her first year of running the distance: “It is so cool because I didn’t believe at the start of the season I would have this success. To be new to an event and to feel this kind of success is awesome. Izzy is a phenomenal competitor and so much fun to run against. I had that bit of a push to catch her, and as is normal with Izzy it was a massive fight down the home straight.”

Commonwealth Games-bound discus thrower Connor Bell did not have his best day at the office but still a 57.51m effort in round four was good enough to deliver a gold medal in the senior men’s discus. Lachlan Page of Australia with 54.83m took out the silver medal.

Canterbury-based multi-eventer Max Attwell produced a blistering performance in the 1500m to overhaul Australian Alex Diamond and win decathlon gold in a huge new personal best of 7635pts. Attwell, who placed fourth at the 2019 World University Games, posted PB’s in five of the ten disciplines to claim a memorable win. His 1500m time of 4:20.59 is world-class for a decathlete and his performance over the two days in Mackay added more than 200pts on his previous best achieved three years ago in Naples at those World University Games.

In the Para events, Danielle Aitchison, the Paralympic 200m T36 silver medallist went one better at the Oceania Championships as she took gold in the half-lap event. The Waikato-based sprinter registered 31.09 to claim the victory on percentages (of the world record based on classification) ahead of Australian duo Mali Lovell and Tamsin Colley, who are both also T36 sprinters.

New Zealand also secured a couple of U18 gold medals thanks to a pair of head-turning performances. In the men’s 800m event, James Ford unleashed a blistering late burst of speed to secure gold in a time of 1:54.15 – 0.37 clear of silver medallist Wolfgang Cotra-Nemesi of Australia.

Meanwhile, Kiwi Susannah Kennelly managed her nerves to produce a brilliant clutch sixth round throw of 46.42m to overcome Australian Zoe Daniels and secure gold in the women’s discus.

The 16-year-old Aucklander, who yesterday won silver in the women’s U18 shot put, admitted she was shaking with nerves but a second round throw of 44.96m seized control of the competition. Daniels briefly took top spot with a 45.28m effort only for Suzannah to produce a mighty final round hurl and claim top spot on the podium.

New Zealand snared a truckload of other medals on a sunny but windy day in Northern Queensland. Cantabrian Christina Ryan added 137pts on to her lifetime best to produce a lion-hearted performance to win a deserved silver medal with a total haul of 5282pts. The New Zealand heptathlon champion produced a consistent series of results highlighted by PB’s in the high jump (1.70m), javelin (36.99m) and 800m (2:31.03) as it propelled her to second on the podium behind Australian Taneille Crase (5945pts).

In the senior men’s 400m, Australian-based Kiwi Liam Webb earned the biggest accomplishment of his career as the 22-year-old sprinter bagged silver in 47.50 – 0.79 short of gold medallist Alex Beck of Australia. Just over an hour later, Liam also finished a creditable seventh in the senior men’s 200m final in 21.84m.

There was also a silver medal for James Steyn in the men’s pole vault. The Aucklander cleared a best of 5.10m but missed out on countback to Aussie Dalton di Medio on the ultimate prize, the Kiwi paying the price for two failures at his opening height of 4.95m.

Tatiana Kaumoana produced the third longest throw of her career as she fired the discus out to a first round 54.20m to bank silver in the senior women’s event. The 22-year-old – who achieved a personal best of 56.51m at the ITM in February – finished second behind dominant Australian Taryn Gollshewsky (57.39m).

Mitch Joynt claimed a silver medal in the men’s para 200m after stopping the clock in 24.41 (-1.2m/s). The 27-year-old T64 sprinter was disappointed to be some way down on this best and missed out on gold to Queensland’s Lindsey Hendy (T20) who posted a time of 24.17.

New Zealand senior 800m champion Holly Manning added the Oceania bronze medal to her collection by clocking 2:06.35 – as she finished more than a second-and-a-half down on Australian gold medallist Tess Kirsopp-Cole.

Josh Lush, who posted a national senior men’s T20 100m record of 11.65 on Tuesday, continued his memorable championships by taking bronze in the men’s para long jump.

The Australian-based New Zealand athlete powered out to a wind-aided best of 6.35m (2.8m/s) in round two to ensure a place on the podium. In a good series, the 21-year-old also broke the sand at 6.34m (3.4m/s) in round three and sailed out to 6.25m (3.6m/s) with his fourth jump. Lush’s national T20 record of 6.40m was set three years ago.  

With the finishing order determined by the percentage distance of the world record per an athletes classification, gold was won by Aussie Ari Gesini T38 with a best of 6.17m.

For full results go here

For the guide to when the Kiwis are competing on Thursday 9 June go here

To follow the livestream of the action go here