News & Updates

23 February 2023 • Track and Field

Preston and Mathas dominate in impressive Melbourne 800m

James Preston set a world lead time for the 800m at the Maurie Plant meet in Melbourne tonight finishing 0.15 clear of fellow Kiwi Brad Mathas. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich)

James Preston led home a memorable Kiwi men’s 800m one-two from Brad Mathas at the Maurie Plant meet in Melbourne, clocking an impressive world leading time and season’s best mark of 1:45.85.

In the World Continental Tour Gold Meet – the most prestigious one-day athletics competition in Oceania – the 25-year-old Kiwi showed an impressive turn of pace down the home straight to repel the challenge of Mathas, who chipped 0.01 from his two-year-old lifetime best to clock 1:46.00.

Preston, who is unbeaten over 800m for the season, sat second behind Lachlan Raper of Australia after the pacemaker – who ran a slick 50.20 for the first 400m – departed for the final lap dust up.

As seven men entered the home straight with a chance of victory, Preston sat third and appeared to momentarily check his position before veering out to launch his winning burst for home.

Mathas responded by launched a vicious kick on the inside rail and briefly challenged the long-striding Preston but the Wellington Scottish athlete held on to claim a famous win and complete a memorable day for New Zealand two-lap running. Preston set his PB of 1:45.30 to move to number three on the all-time New Zealand men’s 800m lists in Pfungstadt, Germany last year and will be given a huge boost in world ranking points from tonight’s win.

Hamilton City Hawks athlete Tori Peeters was also in the winning mood in Melbourne, defeating a top-class international field with a best distance of 59.00m. The 28-year-old thrower launched her winning throw in round one and would not be denied as she defeated 2018 Commonwealth champion Kathryn Mitchell of Australia, who registered a best of 57.92m.

Sam Tanner produced another outstanding performance to set an outdoor mile PB of 3:53.83 to place second in the John Landy Mile behind Australia’s Commonwealth 1500m champion Ollie Hoare.

After a relatively sedate first lap, the pace gradually increased and after the pacemaker departed the long striding Hoare hit the front and further turned the screw. Tanner comfortable passed the fading Ethiopian Adehena Kaysae and set off in pursuit of Hoare but he could not quite catch the barrel-chested Australian – who proved too strong to win in 3:52.24.

It was another great performance from Tanner who climbed to number two on the all-time New Zealand indoor lists by recording 3:51.70 at the Millrose Games in New York earlier this month. His previous outdoor mile PB of 3:54.56 was set in Whanganui in January when snaring the New Zealand mile title.

The 22-year-old Athletics Tauranga athlete will now move on to compete at the Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington, where he will look to defend his national 1500m crown.

New Zealand men’s sprint duo Eddie Osei-Nketia and Tiaan Whelpton placed second and third, respectively as Australian sprint ace Rohan Browning took out an electrifying men’s 100m.

Whelpton, the joint New Zealand resident record-holder, made a blistering start from the blocks and comfortable led at halfway with Browning and Osei-Nketia on his immediate outside. However, in the final 30m it was the New Zealand record-holder that stormed to the front only by Browning – a 10.01 100m sprinter at his best – to finish with a powerful late surge and claim victory by 0.01 in 10.27 (-1.7m/s). Whelpton held on to claim grab third in 10.39. 

Georgia Hulls, who ran a stunning 200m PB of 22.84 – just 0.03 behind the national record-setting Rosie Elliott in Christchurch on Sunday – could not quite match that display tonight at the Lakeside Stadium, placing joint fourth in the women’s 200m, recording 23.56 (-1.5m/s) behind Australia’s Commonwealth finalist Ella Connolly 23.28.

New Zealand 3000m champion Julian Oakley, clocked his fastest time over the seven-and-a-half lap distance for five years, crossing the line in 7:53.00 to finish fifth in a high-class men’s 3000m won by Kenyan Ishmael Kipkurui in a meeting record 7:41.38.

Oceania record-holder Lauren Bruce placed third in the women’s hammer with a best of 65.45m achieved with her fourth round toss. Rose Loga of France clinched victory with a best throw of 69.31m. Bruce’s fellow Kiwi Lexi Maples set a PB of 58.72m to place seventh.

In the women’s high jump, Kiwi duo Keeley O’Hagan and Imogen Skelton both cleared a best of 1.80m to place fourth and sixth, respectively. Australia’s Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers took the victory with a best of 1.93m.

Kiwi Livvy Wilson clipped 0.01 from her season’s best to record 11.73 (-1.4m/s) to place eighth in the women’s 100m behind Australia’s Naa Anang, who set a PB of 11.20 to claim victory.

Rebekah Greene, 29, of New Zealand benefited from competing in a high-class race to place 12th and record the second quickest 1500m of her career in 4:15.08. Australia’s Oceania record-holder Jessica Hull took out victory in the women’s metric mile in 4:07.11.

Results here