Linden Hall has started a Commonwealth Games year on the best possible foot with an A-qualifer and personal best time at Saturday night’s Hunter Track Classic at Glendale.
The Rio Olympian stopped the clock at 15 minutes and 18.77 seconds to comfortably win the women’s 5000 metres, which was the last race of the ninth-annual athletics event.
Hall, who will target her preferred 1500m on the Gold Coast in April, eclipsed her previous mark in the longer distance by 35 seconds and was well inside the qualifier of 15:22.00.
The Victorian-based 26-year-old chose to contest the 5000m at the Hunter Track Classic as part of her preparations for next month’s 1500m at the national championships and Commonwealth Games trials.
“I’m lucky to have a few A-qualifiers [in the 1500m] from last season which really takes the pressure off and meant I was able to prepare without having to peak before nationals,” Hall told the Newcastle Herald.
“It allowed us to have a new challenge of running the 5k and really test where my fitness is at and get on the track to start racing.”
Hall was in a breakaway group of three before pulling away in the closing three laps with Emily Brichacek (15:48.58) second and Melissa Duncan (15:52.89) third.
It was awarded best performance at this year’s Hunter Track Classic and Hall received a trophy for her efforts.
Four races prior fellow Victorian-based Rio Olympian Morgan Mitchell, 23, took out the women’s 400m for a fourth straight year at Glendale.
Mitchell’s time of 52.77s wasn’t a Commonwealth Games qualifer but she already has eight of those in the bag from the last 12 months, including an A-time of 51.96s at Newcastle last year.
“That felt awesome and despite the time I’m so happy with that,” Mitchell said.
“We needed that and we got it. I’ve been working hard and it’s good to finally see everything paying off.”
The men’s shot put also had an Olympic flavour to it with Australian record holder Damien Birkinhead producing 19.55m and holding off Matthew Cowie (17.79m) and Kurri Kurri’s Aiden Harvey (17.65m), who threw a personal best in open competition but fell short of the Commonwealth Games B-qualifer (18.10m).
Elsewhere at the meeting and Commonwealth Games B-qualifiers were clocked in wins by Sydney University’s Paige Campbell (9:49.60) in the women’s 3000m steeplechase and Morgan McDonald (3:39.14) in the men’s 1500m.
Locally there was success for Wallsend RSL’s Stephanie Scigala (12.6m) in the women’s shot put while it was a Macquarie Hunter double in the triple jump – men’s to Shaun Fletcher (14.11m) and women’s to Tahla Pont (11.77m).
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