Australia's Olympic Games aspirations have been boosted by the record-breaking leap of pole vaulter Alana Boyd, who stole the show at the Go for 2&5 Track Classic.
The 27-year-old's decision to move from Queensland to Perth to join coach Alex Parnov paid dividend when she claimed the Australian outdoor record with 4.66m in Saturday night's competition. That effort would have ranked her among the top six women in the world last year.
With Steve Hooker's Olympics title defence in trouble after last week admitting he had lost his nerve and would not compete for the rest of the domestic season, the spotlight is on Boyd.
She said her first couple of attempts to surpass Kym Howe's record of 4.65m were not good.
"I was a bit too excited and ran too fast, but the timing of the third jump was very good technically and the feeling on the way down, knowing the record was mine, was great," Boyd said.
"It was nice to get a five centimetre personal best and get closer to the 4.70m mark."
She said the Australian indoor record, which Howe holds at 4.72m, was her next goal.
"I am not looking for anything specific. I just want to jump well technically and if I can do that, the bar should keep going up," Boyd said.
Australian high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth said performances across the board were improving.
"We have already achieved 27 Olympic A-qualifiers and that is higher than I can remember in previous Olympic years," he said.
"I am very happy with the way we are tracking."
Hollingsworth had particular praise for John Steffensen after his performance in winning the 400m against a class field.
"He is a quality athlete and that is what quality athletes do - they prepare well and this was a very good first time out for him," he said.
Sally Pearson, the IAAF international athlete of the year, had hoped for a strong start to her domestic campaign in the 100m hurdles, where she is just seven hundredths of a second off the world record.
The 25-year-old started well out of the blocks but almost came unstuck over the sixth hurdle, eventually finishing with a disappointing 12.86sec. Earlier, she failed in her record attempt in the 100m sprint with a time of 11.28."I thought it would be a lot faster. I expected a lot more from my training," Pearson said. "You've got to perform on the day, and I didn't. It was only my first race and I have a lot more work to do."
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