Athletics: Smit easily wins fourth title in a row

By Shane Hurndell

Fears Canterbury's Angie Smit had glandular fever during the build-up to Saturday night's Sylvia Potts Classic athletics meeting in Hastings were allayed as she claimed a fourth consecutive 800 metres title.

"It was just a virus and I've come right at the right time," Smit explained after clocking 2m07.23s at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park.

The virus was a major contributing factor to Smit, 21, who pocketed $300, missing out on the $400 bonus for beating Potts personal best of 2m04.1s.

The annual meeting which is in its 14th year is run in memory of Hawke's Bay Olympian Potts who died in 1999 after a battle with cancer.

Another factor was the lack of competition for Smit.

As she completed the first lap in 61s she was 15 metres ahead of her nearest rival and she crossed the finish line 30 metres ahead of second placegetter Arianna Harper of Wellington who clocked 2m11.09s.

"I'm pleased with my win but disappointed with my time. But this is my first 800 since July and because of my virus I was quite nervous before the race," Smit said.

Back in July she clocked a personal best of 2m00.67s at a European meeting.

"That's why I'm disappointed with my time tonight.

"It's well off my PB but I will be back next year to attempt a fourth title and have another crack at the bonus time ... I love coming here," Smit said.

She will run in Wanganui's annual mile meeting on Tuesday and tackle a couple of other Classic meetings before heading to Adelaide.

Smit has an international meeting in Christchurch next month and will return to Europe in June.

"My training programmes are aimed at having me peaking when I hit Europe," she added.

Napier Athletics Club's Holly Manning was the best of the Hawke's Bay starters with a ninth placing in the 15-strong field.

Her time of 2m15.34s was also outside her PB of 2m14.47s.

Tamatea Intermediate School 11-year-old Jarred Coutts got the biggest cheer on the night at the meeting which attracted 136 athletes and was staged in fine and breezy conditions. Coutts won the 3000m handicap track walk in a time of 20m11.97s.

His father, Graeme Jones, who competed at two World Cup events in the mid 1990s gave his son plenty of tips during the event and finished third on handicap. It was Coutts first competition race.

"Whether Jarred sticks with it remains to be seen. He certainly has potential and very good technique," a proud Jones said afterwards.

"When I started race walking as a 17-year-old I clocked 21s for my first 3km event so Jarred has made a good start," he added.

Aussie visitor Sarah McSweeney lapped the other four starters in her 3000m steeplechase race on the way to a winning time of 10m43.57s.

Tauranga favourite Joseph Millar won the men's 100m title with a time of 10.53s. Running on his own he also took out the men's 2 x 100m relay title.

North Harbour's Nick Southgate improved his national under-18 pole vault record clearing 5.10m.

In second place, fellow North Harbour competitor Pascal Kethers also made the most of the perfect vaulting conditions to clear a personal best of 4.80 metres.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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