Inside Athletics

Birmingham, Wellings Zatopek champions


National record holder Collis Birmingham and a resurgent Eloise Wellings have taken out the 10000m national championships in wet conditions at the Zatopek:10 meet.

Birmingham powered away over the final two laps from a pack of four athletes to regain the national 10000m title which he last won in 2007.

Stopping the clock at 28:04.14, Birmingham went just under the A-qualifying standard for the Commonwealth Games, but may not contest the event in Delhi.

"You won't see me doing the 10k and another event, but maybe a 5k and a 1500?" he said after the race.

"I don't know. I'm not sure of the program but the Comm Games in Melbourne was a great opportunity to do the 5k at the start of the week and the 1500m on the Friday/Saturday.

"But you won't see me doing the 5k and 10k I don't think."

Behind Birmingham the next three athletes ran Commonwealth Games B-qualifiers: Ben St Lawrence (28:05.73), Michael Shelley (28:13.13) and Jeff Hunt (28:19.39).

Last year's winner, US collegiate based David McNeill, was reduced to a jog over the last two kilometres, suffering from a side stitch. He finished 11th in 29:43.51

Birmingham' victory caps a fantastic fortnight after having placed second at the Great Australian Run road race in a new Australian 15km record.

"I guess last year was the first time doing it and I got a bit excited during the week and ended up training pretty bloody hard," he said of his fourth place finish at Zatopek in this race last year.

"This year I was more relaxed knowing that I was in good shape so I just went up to Falls Creek and chilled out for a week."

The women's race was the closest in the event's history, with four athletes still in contention at the bell. Last year's victor, Lara Tamsett, hit the lead with 400m remaining but it was Eloise Wellings who triumphed in the race down the home straight. The 27 year old clocked 32:19.08, inside the Commonwealth Games B-qualifier, with the next five athletes behind her also bettering the mark.

Marathon runner Lisa Weightman was second in 32:20.14, just ahead of Lara Tamsett 32:20.39, with Rebecca Lowe (32:24.70), Nikki Chapple (32:29.92) and Cassie Fien (33:16.16) also under the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard.

"I'm so emotional. I've been training really well but I didn't expect that - it is only my second 10k on the track," said a delighted Wellings after the race. Since having a stellar 2006, where she finished fourth in the 5000m at the Commonwealth Games and set a personal best of 14:54.11, Wellings has suffered from four stress fractures.

"I guess I had nothing to lose. I knew the other girls were in good shape and so I just tried to follow them for as long as I could and relax lap by lap.

"I felt good virtually the whole way and I knew that if I hung in there until the last lap I had the top end speed, because 5k is my preferred event."

In other events world discus champion Dani Samuels threw 59.94m in poor conditions; Dale Stevenson threw his second Commonwealth Games A-qualifier in the shot put in the space of a week with 19.23m; and Ryan Gregson capped off his junior career with victory in the de Castella 3000m race, clocking a meet record 8:02.56.

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