Saliu wins traditional Bay Sheffield lead up Gift
Aldinga sprinter Alex Saliu staked his claim for a shot at the Bay Sheffield in three weeks time with a narrow win in the Pre-Bay Sheffield Gift held at Colley Reserve on Sunday.
After running second to pre-race favourite Tjimarri Sanderson-Milera by 2m in his semi final, Saliu was surprised he crossed the line first in a final that included four previous Bay Sheffield finalists.
“It was a great field, anyone could have won” Saliu said.
“Tjimarri (Sanderson-Milera) was always going to be hard to catch after he beat me in the semi.”
Although he has enjoyed some memorable wins in circle events including the Stawell 400m and the Loxton 300m, Saliu has struggled to deliver over the traditional Sheffield distance. As an 18 year old he was fourth in the 2009 Bay Sheffield, but Sunday’s win was his first over 120m in open company.
“I won the Loxton 300m in February (2013), but before that it was a bit of a drought” Saliu said.
“I can’t remember my last win before Loxton.”
The two semis were each won in emphatic fashion by Tjimarri Sanderson-Milera (7.50m) and James Cibich (7.0m) and they appeared set to fight out the final. However Saliu (6.75m) won the start and was soon level with his more fancied rivals before holding on to win by a metre from Sanderson-Milera with Cibich 3rd.
Saliu ran 12.70secs to win the final, slower than James Cibich did in running the fastest semi final time of 12.55secs.
Earlier in the day, Cibich had run equal 3rd in the 70m final, again after having the fastest semi final time when he beat Michael Cassidy. However Cassidy (12.75m) turned the tables in the final to win by half a metre from Daniel Flesfader (8.25m) with David Miller (9.50m) crossing the line equal 3rd with Cibich (5.75m).
The feature event for the women was over 70m where middle distance runner Lauren McHugh made the most of her 13.50m handicap denying Grange Beachies’ Natasha Inglis (7.50m) a hat trick of 70m wins after previously winning at Flinders and Sacred Heart.
Salisbury athlete Sam Russell showed why he is one of the most promising 400/800 prospects in the state with a huge come-from-behind win to take out the 550m Open. Russell (32m) took control on the bend to hold off Michael Nitschke (42m) and Murlin Remphrey (45m) in the quick time of 1min 09.98 secs.
Amy Robb backed up her recent 400m at Henley with a brilliant win in the Women’s 550m. The Aaron Harrison coached Robb (68m) raced to the lead shortly before the final turn and held on down the long 120m straight to beat Jessica Oates (55m) and Emily Hyde (64m) in 1min 18.90secs.
McKinnon Parade’s Dane Fenton won his first ever race on the SA Athletic League circuit, taking out the 1600m Open. Following a dour struggle up the back straight, Fenton (205m) drew clear from Flagstaff Hill’s James Grant (250m) and Sacred Heart 3200m winner Jordan Harvey (160m) to win in 4min 06.89secs.
Also winning her first sash was Flinders’ athlete Nadia DeBellis (215m) who made it a one act affair of the Women’s 1600m winning by 30m from Jemma Nguyen (140m) and Emily Hyde (140m) in 4mins 41.83secs.
McKinnon Parade’s Mark “Hollywood” Howson won his second consecutive race taking out the Over 35’s 550m to add to his 1600m win at Sacred Heart the week before.
Michael Cassidy made it a Colley Reserve double winning both the 70m Open and the Over 45’s 120m. It also made it three wins in a week for the team Townley sprinter after he had won the Over 35’s 70m at Sacred Heart.
In the junior events, Cameron Vinall (Under 17’s 70m) and Jenni Partington (Under 20’s 550m) each won their first race while 16 year old Grainne Henry backed up her debut win last week at Sacred Heart over 400m, taking out the under 20’s 120m.
The next SAAL athletic carnival is the Brighton Gift on Sunday 15th December 2013.