Pearson upstaged by special throwing from the Ks in Adelaide

Whilst Olympic champion Sally Pearson was the drawcard for the 2014 Adelaide Track Classic, World Championships teammates Kim Mickle and Kathryn Mitchell stole the show with world class performances in the javelin.

It was with great anticipation that the Moscow silver medallist and fifth placegetters respectively were making their season debuts. The pair have dominated the event domestically in recent years, however young Canberran Kelsey-Lee Roberts emerged as a real threat to their mantle in the new year with her first 60m throw, followed by a massive 63.92m at the ACT Championships in early February. A throw good enough to rank ninth in the world in 2013.

In the meet introduction, I announced to the crowd that the #SpecialKs, as I have been calling the trio on Twitter, were the highlight of the meet and would deliver something special. I gave Pearson a big wrap of course, being Oly and dual world champ and all, but I love to wave the flag for the field events/ers. Especially these young women. I had the pleasure of crossing paths many times in Europe last summer with Mickle and Mitchell and they are a class act. Humble winners and gracious in defeat. Just the way, we like our champs.

Conditions were blustery as competition kicked off mid-evening, and whilst there were generally headwinds, it was less that ideal. 22-year-old Roberts, was the first of the big guns to throw and seemed to overcompensate for the headwinds and skied a 51.83m opener. Victorian Mitchell, next-to-last in throwing order, took the opportunity to strike. It was a great looking throw as she hit it perfectly, smashing her personal best by nearly 1.76m with the spear landing at 66.10m. That moved her up one place to third on the Australian all-time list ahead of 1997 World Championships silver-medallist Joanna Stone. Mitchell celebrated with Mickle and the other women in the competition congratulating her.

West Australian Mickle, the second-best ever Australian with her 66.60m personal best from Moscow, stepped over the foul line on her her first throw, perhaps stunned by Mitchell’s opening effort. Roberts improved to 54.25m but still struggled to find rhythm. The Victorian then backed up her first with a 63.83m in round two, a throw she had only bettered on one previous occasion. Mickle was on the board with her second, a solid 61.73m.

Roberts did not improve and Mitchell fouled in the third round. Then 29-year-old Mickle found her groove and those with a judges-eye view watched as she pierced the javelin through the wind, the flight unwavering and bettered the Victorian’s opener by the tiniest of margins with 66.12m.

Roberts, who looked nervous throughout the competition, improved to 55.02m in round four which would remain her best. Despite not throwing anywhere near her recent best, she was still able to record a Commonwealth B qualifier and take consolation that until this year, she had only once thrown beyond 56m.

The potential of an Australian record (66.80), set by Louise Currey in August 2000, from either of the more-seasoned throwers seemed real. Mitchell, fouled her final three throws though, knowing instantly each time that the throws weren’t big. Mickle’s fifth round 64.23m looked big but the wind dragged it right a few meters.

2014 Adelaide Track Classic - Women's Javelin results
2014 Adelaide Track Classic – Women’s Javelin

Pearson’s 200m was held up in attempt to build anticipation for the final throws, and whilst the crowd was encouraged to support Mitchell and Mickle on their finals throws, they responded with less-than-enthusiastic clapping.

Not surprisingly with a full set of throws each, the women were unable to improve as Mickle’s 61.73m ended an historic competition.

The performances were Commonwealth Games A qualifiers, and if all three women remain healthy, South African Sunette Viljoen should be the only obstacle to a clean sweep of the medals in Glasgow.

It was the highest quality Australian’s women’s javelin competition ever with distances that few in the world can better. To put the performances into perspective, there’s only been two majors of the past ten years where 66.10m would not have medalled. That was in Beijing in 2008 and Daegu 2011 when Spotakova and Abukamova were at the height of their powers, each with plus-70m throws on both occasions, while the bronzes were won with distances of 66.13m and 68.38m respectively.

It was disappointing that there was little media coverage of the throws, taking a backseat instead to Pearson’s 100m/200m double. Incidentally, the Hungarian Tables, which the IAAF use for comparison across events, show that Pearson would have needed 11.14 and 22.68 to better the throws.

Only 5 Australian women have thrown beyond 60m, and only Germany has more at the upper end of the all-time list.

Australian All-Time List – Women’s Javelin

66.80 Louise (McPaul) Currey 240169 1 Gold Coast 5 Aug 00
66.60 Kimberley Mickle W 281284 2 Moscow, Russia 18 Aug 13
66.10 Kathryn Mitchell V 100782 3 Adelaide 15 Feb 14
64.62 Joanna (Stone) Nixon Q 041072 2 Gold Coast 5 Aug 00
63.92 Kelsey-Lee Roberts A 210991 1 Canberra 8 Feb 14

Author: patbirgan

Australian living in Italy and managing the AIS European Training Centre. In my spare time I like to watch, write, tweet, commentate, manage, immerse in all things athletics.

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