Athletics: Millar quick over 200m at Porritt Classic

By Steve Landells

Photo / Macspeedfoto
Photo / Macspeedfoto

Joseph Millar gave a timely reminder of his rare sprinting talent by blitzing to a new lifetime best of 20.77 - with a slight talewind of +0.7 - to take an eye-catching victory in the men's 200m at the Porritt Classic in Hamilton.

The 23-year-old Athletics Tauranga athlete signalled a clear warning the Olympic A standard nomination time of 20.50 is within his sights as he executed the finest half-lap of his career.

"After running 21.04 in Wellington last week I knew I had something big in the tank," admits Millar who climbs to joint sixth in the all-time New Zealand rankings with the 20.77 clocking. "I knew after that I had that speed in my legs - it gave me that kick I needed."

Millar, who moved from his Tauranga-base to Auckland last June to link up with a new coach, Paul Gamble, says he is a man re-born since making the switch.

"I now train in a different way. It is not about grinding it out every day, it about being as efficient as possible and about improving on the qualities I already have," adds Millar.

Hometown favourite Cameron French declared himself "really happy" to claim victory in the men's 400m hurdles in his seasonal opener after a recent Achilles tendon injury has badly hampered his training.

The Hamilton Hawks athlete, who has designs on qualifying for the Rio Olympics, has barely trained for the past three weeks due to the nagging injury but stopped the clock in 51.74 to defeat his clubmate by Phil Simms by 0.88 and was relieved to have come through the experience unscathed.

"I wasn't too sure if I was going to run today, so I'm really happy," admits French. "I only managed three hurdles on Thursday in training, so I'm pleased to make it through the race."

French says he is taking the injury day by day but hopes the problem eases in the next week to allow him to compete in Canberra next weekend.

"The Achilles is pretty sore, but it is a relief to make it through in one piece," he says. "Fifty one seconds is not too bad. The goal today was to make it through the race."

Commonwealth Youth Games representative Lucy Sheat once again demonstrated her hugely exciting potential by taking victory in a quality women's 200m in a new lifetime best of 24.03.

The 16-year-old, who trains on a grass track in her native Blenheim, destroyed her previous best by 0.28 to secure an impressive win - albeit an agonising 0.03 shy of the Athletics New Zealand qualification standard for the World Junior Championships in Poland.

Behind, 17-year-old Olivia Eaton (Egmont ) trimmed 0.26 from her lifetime best to record 24.22 while the top three placings were rounded out by a third teenager World Youth Championships semi-finalist Georgia Hulls in 24.44.

Sheat was elated with a new lifetime best and says of her performance: "Everything is going to plan at the moment. I couldn't ask for anything more. I didn't quite get the qualifying for World Juniors which is a bit of a pain (note, she has the 100m qualifier) but there is still time to get that."

The next stop for Sheat is an outing with a crack New Zealand Junior 4x100m squad in Canberra next week before she competes at the New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Dunedin early next month.

Earlier in a women's 100m field stocked with great depth, Rochelle Coster was the fastest of the qualifiers for the final later today. The Pakuranga AC athlete - who competed in an eye-catching fluorescent orange kit with green stars - blitzed to an 11.94 clocking with the benefit of a slight tailwind of 0.4m/s in the fifth of six heats.

Leading teenage talents Georgia Hulls (11.96) and Zoe Hobbs (11.95) and also both dipped below 12-seconds to take victory in heats one and two, respectively ahead of the final due to start at 6.45pm.

Millar (Athletics Tauranga) earlier made a clear statement of intent that he will also be the man to beat in the men's 100m by cruising through his heat to top the qualifiers in 10.78. The three-time New Zealand 100m champion eased down in the final stages to finish ahead of South Canterbury's Jacob Matson (11.00), who qualified second quickest overall from the heats.

The best of the rest was the evergreen James Mortimer who stopped the clock in 11.08 to win heat three. The starting gun will be fired at 6.55pm for the final.

- NZ Herald

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