Athletics: Matthews a step closer to Rio

Julian Matthews reacts after competing at the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships. Photo / Getty Images
Julian Matthews reacts after competing at the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships. Photo / Getty Images

Julian Matthews and Hamish Carson have had outstanding performances over 1500m in the USA today, finishing second and third respectively at a meeting in Swarthmore, near Philadelphia, lifting their chances of selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Matthews, a 1500m finalist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, ran 3:36.14 to trim 1.13 seconds off his personal best and sneak under the Rio 2016 IAAF standard and NZ A nomination standard of 3:36.20.

He can now expect to be nominated for the Rio Olympics for the next selection announcement in July.

Carson was equally impressive, stopping the clock just 0.11 behind Matthews, recording 3:36.25, a personal best by 1.79, just outside the A standard 3:36.20, but comfortably under the NZ B standard of 3:37.20.

With the time just outside the IAAF requirement, Carson will need to either run faster than 3:36.20 or to wait to see if he gets an invite from the IAAF and his nomination confirmed by the NZOC.

The third Kiwi in the race, Eric Speakman, finished sixth in 3:37.85 and had the satisfaction of smashing his previous best by 2.41 while getting close to the B standard time.

Matthews improves three places to seventh on the NZ All-time list for 1500m, while Carson moves up five places to ninth and Speakman joins the exclusive top 20 in the blue -ribbon event at number 14.

The three New Zealanders have been training in Arizona and Michigan with Nick Willis and were targeting the race as an opportunity for securing qualifying times for the Rio Olympics. Each country can have three athletes per athletics event and with Willis already selected, the competition is intense for the two remaining spots.

The next opportunity will be a race this weekend in Windsor, Canada.

- Radio Sport

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