Out of the shadows: Ben St Lawrence, the Australian 1000m record breaker, takes a break during one of his regular training sessions at Centennial Park, Sydney. Picture: Mark Evans Source: The Daily Telegraph
Out of the shadows - Ben St Lawrence taking giant strides towards London Olympics
By Mike Hurst
The Daily Telegraph
June 01, 2011
IN the shadows of Sydney's Centennial Park, Ben St Lawrence is taking great strides towards his goal of making a distance final at the London Olympics.
AS IF it were showing the way forward, Ben St Lawrence's shadow seems to be symbolic of his charge from a world of big dreams to the real world of distance running where Africans reign supreme and just about everyone else is regarded as kidding themselves.
For a decade he fooled around with fun runs but now at 29, an age when many disillusioned athletes have ceased to grasp at shadows, St Lawrence has decided it is time to fly.
"Only" seventh in his international track debut for Australia at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in both 5000m (in 13min 46.9sec) and 10,000m (28:49.47) last October, the Sydney corporate fitness consultant has since surpassed most expectations.
His rate of improvement has been phenomenal under coach Sean Williams at their Centennial Park base.
In March he gave Kenya-born US superstar Bernard Lagat a shock drawing level with 80m to go in a loaded 5000m at the Melbourne Track Classic. Two-time world champion Lagat won by three or four strides in the end but St Lawrence clocked 13:10 to beat several sub-13min men including Americans Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegencamp, as well as top locals Craig Mottram and Jeremy Roff.
Then on May 1, he took 5sec off Olympian Collis Birmingham's national record clocking 27:24.95 at Stanford University.
"I want to at least reach an Olympic final [in London next year, probably at 5000m] but if I keep on improving I'd like to think I'll be in the mix running the last few laps," St Lawrence said yesterday.
"I want to sneak into a medal, upset the formbook with the supposed invincibility of the Africans."
He has qualified to compete in both 5 and 10 at the world championships in Daegu, Sth Korea starting on August 27 but has yet to decide which event to run because he feels the double would be problematic.
However, with exciting 1500m runners Jeff Riseley (Vic) and Ryan Gregson also forging their way onto the international stage, St Lawrence is out to show the rest of the world that Australians are not chasing their own shadows when it comes to fulfilling their dreams of winning medals in world tournaments such as Daegu and the London Olympics.
Riseley won with a world leading time in the 1000m race at Ostrava yesterday. His next race will be the Dream Mile in Oslo, June 9, where two years ago he set his best of 3:51.25 - third fastest Australian all-time behind Mottram's 3:48.98 set in 2005 and Simon Doyle 3:49.91 run in 1991.
Gregson will also race over the mile and Birmingham over 2M at the Steve Prefontaine memorial meet in Eugene, Oregon this Saturday.