Teen sensation Riley Day is following in the footsteps of the legendary Raelene Boyle after claiming a stunning victory in the women’s 200m to complete the sprint double at the Commonwealth Games trials.
The 17-year-old Day made light of a 1.7m per second headwind on Sunday to win in 22.93 seconds – slashing more than a quarter of a second from her previous best time.
The only Australian women to have run the 200m faster as teenagers were Boyle and Jenny Lamy – and that was at altitude at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics where they claimed the silver and bronze medals.
Day will also be a key member of the 4x100m relay squad at the April 4-15 Games, but her winning time of 11.56 in the individual 100m earlier in the trials was not a Commonwealth qualifier.
“I have never loved the sport more,” said Day.
“I still half have a love-hate relationship with the 200, but to get the results from it you have to keep doing it.”
Day first burst to prominence at the Nitro Athletics Series last year, where she raced against Usain Bolt in the mixed relay, and also made her major championships debut at the world titles in London.
“If you asked me 12 months ago where I would be today I couldn’t have told you anything of what I have gone on to do and succeeded with,” said Day.
Fellow Queenslander Alex Hartmann was equally impressive in winning the men’s 200m in 20.57 into an even stronger headwind than the one which confronted Day.
Now over the disappointment of a poor Olympic debut in Rio, Hartmann has Peter Norman’s 50-year-old national record of 20.06 in his sights.
“I talk about it with my coach all of the time,” said Hartmann.
“Sometimes I think that he thinks that I’m half joking, but at the warm-up track this morning he said `I’ve seen you training, I’ve seen everything you’ve gone through – you’ve got the potential to do it.
“Go out there and run have fun and do it if you can’.”
The half-lap victories by Day and Hartmann were among a host of fast times recorded on the newly-laid track at Carrara Stadium, which bodes well for the Games.
Brittany McGowan clocked 2:00.24 – the slickest 800m by an Australian in a decade.
Rio Olympics finalist Ryan Gregson did it the hard way in the men’s 1500m.
Gregson was stuck in seventh spot with half a lap to run, before pulling wide and powering away to win in 3:39.66 ahead of training partner Jordy Williamsz.
“You probably think it ‘s a very stressful situation if I’m back in sixth or seventh but I also knew I had another gear,” said Gregson.
“When I am 100 per cent I am hard to beat.”
Among the other winners to guarantee their Games spots on the final day of the trials were 2017 world championships discus silver medallist Dani Samuels (65.30m), pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall (5.55m) and women’s long jumper Brooke Stratton (6.66m).
Lauren Wells gained an automatic Games berth by winning her favoured event, the 400m hurdles.
The versatile Wells also finished third in the long jump behind Stratton and Naa Anang but the schedule at the Gold Coast Games makes it near-impossible for her to contest both events.
The final Games squad of up to 111 athletes – including 23 para-athletes – will be announced on Thursday.