Athletics: Sprint sensation eyes Oz bid
Rotorua Daily Post
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Joseph Millar is New Zealand's fastest man, although the Tauranga sprinter will have to move even quicker if he is to gather up enough to cash to get himself across the Tasman to take on Aussie's best.
Millar, 20, won a sensational sprint double at the New Zealand track and field championships at Waitakere at the weekend and has now set his sights on exporting his talents to the Australian champs in Melbourne from April 13-15 in a bid to lower his new best time of 10.36s for the 100m.
Millar's 100m into a slight headwind was the fourth fastest ever by a New Zealander as he cruised to victory from Isaac Tatoa (10.55) and three-time defending champion Carl Van Der Speck (10.57).
He went on to collect another three golds, winning the sprint double with a 200m time of 21.74s, as well as the M20 4x100m and 4x400m relay with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty team.
Millar's training partner Kodi Harman (10.56) won the 100m by half-a-second, lowering his PB in the process, but twinged his hamstring in the 4x100m relay, pulling out of his Sunday events which included the 4x400m relay and 200m. Tauranga's Michael Goldie (22.98) won bronze in the 200m.
Millar is keen for a tilt at Australia's top sprinting talent but will have to pull together sufficient cash in the next two weeks to get there.
"Hopefully, I'll sort some stuff out because the fastest time in Australia this season is 10.35s so I'm fairly confident I can go over there and medal, maybe even pull something spectacular out and win it," he said.
Millar eclipsed coach Todd Blythe's best 100m time of 10.53s set in 1993 as a 17-year-old and was still buzzing yesterday at his weekend exploits, with the double gold particularly satisfying after he fought back from a potentially career-ending spine injury last year, ignoring Athletics NZ's high performance treatment plan and working with Dr Pat Wigley at Tauranga's CNS (physio and chiropractic) Clinic.
Wigley was in Auckland to watch his athlete and Millar reckons he may have detected the hint of a tear after the 100m final.
"I've never seen him so excited. Pat tells me and Kodi he prefers to celebrate the small successes in training rather than wins but I'm pretty sure he's changed his mind."
Everything clicked for Millar in his first senior men's 100m national final. Tatoa is a renowned fast starter, leading Millar through the opening 70-80m almost without fail in their previous races, but Millar had his number at Waitakere and hit the front after 60m before the boosters went on.
The 200m was more of a battle, with rain and a strong head wind, and at times Millar said it felt as though he wasn't moving at all. While bagging the double was personally satisfying, it also silenced a few doubters at Athletics NZ who'd been trying to encourage the former Aquinas College student to ditch the sprints and become a 400m specialist.
"There was a thought that maybe I should even move into the 800m if I was really serious about sticking around in athletics because I'd never do anything special in 100m - and that came from the top of the high performance unit. But I ignored all that and stuck to my guns and at the moment I don't want to be a 400m runner."
Although he's still a way off the Olympic qualifying mark of 10.21, his 100m time was just outside the world champs qualifying mark but inside the cutoff for the next Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.