Australian runners who waited for last competitor are ‘all class’

OSTN Staff

Three Australian runners have shown the world what sportsmanship is all about during their 10,000m event at the Commonwealth Games on Monday night.

Lineo Chaka from Lesotho was two laps behind the rest of the competitors during the race at Cararra Stadium.

Despite the rest of the athletes leaving the field as soon as they finished the race, Australians Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills and Eloise Wellings stayed behind to cheer Chaka over the line.

The trio then hugged Chaka as she finished, more than five minutes behind gold-medallist Stella Chesang from Uganda.

“(It’s why) I just love racing with two Aussie girls who are just such classy athletes. And I think that is the strength of Australian distance racing,” Sullohern said.

“We were all out there having a go. (It was) so lovely to stand there with those girls and show a bit of, I hope, Aussie sportsmanship.”

While the Australians did not achieve podium finishes, Sullohern delivered the middle-distance performance of her life on the Gold Coast.

The 25-year-old from Yamba knocked more than 30 seconds off her personal best on Monday night, clocking 31 minutes 50.75 seconds to finish sixth.

Sullohern dug in and kept pace with gold medallist Chesang and her fellow Ugandan and Kenyan pacesetters before surging into third with four laps to go.

Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills, Eloise Wellings of Australia congratulate Lineo Chaka of Lesotho after Chaka came last  in the Women's 10,000m final.

Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills, Eloise Wellings of Australia congratulate Lineo Chaka of Lesotho after Chaka came last in the Women’s 10,000m final.

Photo: Tracey Nearmy

Every move she made evoked an almighty roar from the Carrara Stadium crowd and, even with half a lap remaining, she was still fourth and chasing down the bronze before finally being overtaken.

“Absolutely thrilling to be out there racing in front of the Aussie crowd, I really feel like it lifted me,” Sullohern said.

Celia Sullohern of Australia in action in the Women's 10000m.

Celia Sullohern of Australia in action in the Women’s 10000m.

“I wanted to do it in the last lap, I didn’t quite have it but it’s so exciting.

“I’m really excited to come and have another dig in the 5000m on Saturday.”

Hills (32:01.04) finished eighth while fellow Rio Olympics finalist Wellings (32:51.47) settled for 16th.

Earlier, Linden Hall and Georgia Griffith booked women’s 1500m final berths.

Griffith turned it on with a fast-finishing personal best of four minutes 6.41 seconds to qualify second overall behind reigning 800m Olympic and world champion Caster Semenya, who was in cruise control with 4:05.86 in the first heat.

“It was pretty intimidating going up against the 800m world champ, it definitely made it a lot more real,” Griffith said.

Drama affected the second heat as Zoe Buckman got caught in a fall on the final straight and bowed out, though Hall came home strong to place second in 4:08.64 and qualify eighth overall.

with AAP, Michael Gleeson

Originally Published on smh

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