Above: Michael Cochrane (left) clearing the final hurdle in his 400m hurdles on his way to a New Zealand record. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Michael Cochrane ran the race of his life in his heat of the 400m hurdles giving it everything leaving it all out on the track and was rewarded with a personal best and a New Zealand national record of 49.58.
The 24 year old from Tauranga and now resident in Auckland needed a first four placing to qualify for the semi-finals. He started well from lane eight and held his form down the back straight coming into the final 120 metres he clipped the eighth hurdle and although kept his momentum was overshadowed going to the finish line in seventh. He now holds the New Zealand record in his own right after sharing it with his regular Waikato Bay of Plenty rival Cameron French at 49.72.
It took Cochrane some-time after the race to compose himself to be interviewed, saying he said he went for it right from the start.
“It was a good race, I knew with the calibre of athletes going in, there is a lot more in the races this time around so I knew it was going to take a lot more than a 49.7 to get through so I went off at a pace that I thought was about 49 flat and I tried to hold and I couldn’t quite. I was in a good spot with 100 metres to go and thought I might make the first four. I had my stride pattern that I wanted, but I hit hurdle eight which is my last hurdle with my not preferred leg but it didn’t slow me down I managed to keep the momentum going,” he said.
“So next season I’ll work towards being able to get there in the same sort of time and carry on.”
Cochrane said it was a great experience, finishing 28th overall, a big improvement on his 42nd ranking going into the event.
“It’s just nice to be able to come out into this sort of environment and compete well and not let it over whelm me, so I’m pleased with that. It is another Olympic B qualifier, so I’ve got my two now and that was one of the big goals, the other big goal was to get a semi-final, but no semi’s for me, but it was good experience,” he said.
The atmosphere and the crowd did not overawe him.
“I could see the crowd, but I was just focussed on the race. I came in here yesterday just to have a quick look around and that was like the wow factor. Just seeing the size of it and the architecture and the track so that I could come in here today and have no surprises and I think it worked well.”
Next up for Cochrane is to reunite with his wife back in Auckland.
“Another week here watching all the athletics supporting our team and get to see a little bit of China and then head back home see my wife Beth again who I haven’t seen for about two months now so I’m really looking forward to that,” he added.
Portia Bing continued her good form from the morning session with a personal best shot put of 13.60m and completing the first day of competition with a solid 200m of 24.00. This gave her a total of 3763, rocketing her up to eighth place. The 22 year old will compete in the long jump, javelin throw and 800 metres on day two.
With two personal bests and an equal career best in the high jump Bing was fizzing after her 200m.
“Very pleased with the first day performances, what more can you ask for really. Obviously it would have been nice to have gone sub 24 in the 200m, but this is realistically my first comp of the season, so to come out and do a 24, I’m not going to bag it, still my second best heptathlon 200m ever,” she said.
To be amongst the best in the world is a great experience.
“It’s crazy like this might be my first heptathlon I’ve been in where there’s been more than five people. Like there’s four heats of people. It’s pretty hectic, but it is doing wonders for all of my events and giving me a realistic if you want it, it’s out there.
“The high jump was the stand out, because I haven’t done any high jump, I ‘ve done a run up session with Kieran (McKee) and changed the run up, we did a jump and then came here and did it. The fact that I could maintain a reasonable high jump I was pretty happy with,” said Bing.
The caldron of the Bird’s Nest has also spurred her on.
“The atmosphere is pretty crazy, they always tell the crowd to be quiet at the start, but it’s just cheering going the whole time, it’s good fun. Experience wise this one is right up there and the fact that I can actually perform in the environment, like I don’t have any of my coaches here, so I’m pretty happy,” she said.
Bing has family also soaking up the atmosphere.
“I’ve got two brothers here and they are having fun at their first big athletic meet.”
From Murray McKinnon in Beijing