Parnov flying for Olympics

Gene Stephan

Perth teenager Liz Parnov has all but guaranteed herself Olympics selection after producing one of the biggest upsets at the track and field trials in Melbourne at the weekend.

The 17-year-old is expected to join new pole vault record holder Alana Boyd in the team for London after upstaging her WAIS training partner for the title.

Parnov edged out Boyd on a countback after clearing 4.45m in her first attempt, with the defending champion requiring all three jumps to sail over the bar. Both women failed at 4.55m.

With an A-qualifier of 4.50m in Perth two weeks earlier, selectors are unlikely to omit the daughter of highly-respected coach Alex Parnov from the Olympics team, even though two A-standards are required to be a guaranteed selection.

Boyd is a certainty despite being beaten at the trials after more than six qualifiers, which include an Australian and Oceania record of 4.76m.

Conditions were not ideal but it did not concern Parnov, who admitted being surprised by her 10cm personal best in Perth after hurting her back in the lead-up to competition.

"I was on anti-inflammatory and totally relaxed because I was not expecting anything special," she said.

"It just happened and was more of a shock than anything else. Before clearing 4.50m, I had a huge mental barrier with the height because it meant so much to me because Olympic selection could depend on it."

Parnov said one of her main goals for the year was to clear the Olympics qualifying height.

"I don't think 4.50m is my limit because I have watched my jumps and I know I can go higher - it is just a matter of getting everything right on the day," she said.

While Parnov is the future of Australian pole vault, seasoned performer Craig Mottram provided the perfect denouement to the trials when he booked his place on a fourth successive Games team.

By blowing away former training partner Collis Birmingham in the final half-lap of the 5000m, the 31-year-old became one of five athletes to put Olympics selection beyond doubt with his win in 13min. 18.58sec.

Athletics Australia high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth was in no doubt about the significance of the big Victorian's run.

"For Craig that's an unbelievable result," he said. "What he did in the race … was tantamount to Mottram re-establishing himself in our psyche that he is the No.1 man over 5000m.

"And once he has that confidence behind him, we then know with the right training and the right progress he's one of the rare distance athletes that can shake it up with the Africans."

The other four Australians to satisfy the strict automatic qualifying criteria over two cool, and at times wet, nights at Lakeside Stadium were triple jumper Henry Frayne, steeplechaser Youcef Abdi, 400m hurdler Brendan Cole and Jeff Riseley in the 800m.

With Sally Pearson and Mitchell Watt heading eight athletes already pre-selected by virtue of their performances at last year's world championships - plus a host of walkers - as many as 30 could get the nod when the bulk of the London team is named today or tomorrow.

"The whole idea of having the trials at this time of the year is to give people some certainty so they can train and prepare for the big Games in August," Hollingsworth said.

I know I can go higher- it is just a matter of getting everything right on the day "WA's Liz Parnov <div class="endnote">

With Australian Associated Press </div>