Angie Smit proved the undisputed queen of the New Zealand women’s middle-distance running with an emphatic victory in a high-class senior women’s 1500m final to add to the 800m title she had won with such style the previous day.
In the most eagerly anticipated race of the afternoon – Smit (Canterbury) controlled the race from the front a little before the halfway mark to lay waste to a top quality rivals - which included 2010 Commonwealth silver medallist Nikki Hamblin, London 2012 Olympian Lucy van Dalen and rising 1500m talent Camille Buscomb - to stop the clock in 4:17.95.
Hamblin for the second successive day had to settle for a silver medal 1.03 adrift while Buscomb (Waikato BoP) snatched the bronze – to add a second podium of the championships after winning the 5000m title on Friday - in 4:20.51.
Van Dalen (Manawatu Wanganui) placed fourth 4:22.30 with Kara MacDermid, aged just 16, finishing fifth in a personal best of 4:23.95 to suggest the next generation of women’s middle-distance running looks just as strong.
.Smit, who kicked away from Hamblin over the final 100m, said of completing the double: “I’m really, really happy. I sat in for what was a slow first lap because of the wind before going to the front. I was hoping for the double but it wasn’t easy because of the tough competition.”
By contrast Hamblin was downcast with her performance.
“My coach (Steve Willis) told me to back myself on lap three given that Angie can finish really well and I didn’t (back myself),” she explained. “The way I executed that race was quite disappointing. I wasn’t proud of how I ran today, but Angie was awesome. I just have to look forward and find a way to get the qualifier (Commonwealth Games B qualifier of 4:09.00).”
The tactical advice of his nonagenarian coach helped inspire Hamish Carson to what was his fourth national 1500m title in the past five years.
Carson (Wellington) admitted his 91-year coach Arch Jelley – the man who also guided Sir John Walker to the 1976 Olympic 1500m title - said to leave his finishing kick until the final 100m because of the wind.
Leading into the straight he trailed the 2012 champion Julian Matthews of Tasman before unleashing a fearsome burst of acceleration to take the cherished top spot in 3:46.23 by 0.28.
“It paid off,” he added of his coach’s sage words. “Arch is a very wise man. I knew it would come down to the last 100m. Julian has a very good kick. I’m really pleased I could win at my home track.”
Out in the field, Tori Peeters produced a sensational performance in the senior women’s javelin throw to better her pre-competition national under-20 mark – which had stood at 52.83m with all six throws.
The 19-year-old Otago athlete put together an outstanding series with a best effort of 54.45m in round three proving the pick of the throws. Stephanie Wrathall of Auckland (45.57m) earned silver.
In the men’s triple jump Philip Wyatt (Auckland) retained his title just 24 hours after his older brother, Matthew, was crowned national senior men’ long jump champion. Philip added 0.01cm to his lifetime best performance in round five with a 15.43m effort before adding 0.02cm further in the final round with a wind aided jump of +2.8m/s. Scott Thomson of Wellington with 15.04m took the silver.
By Steve Landells reporting from the New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Wellington