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PROTRACK » GENERAL » $4.2m Upgrade of Darwin's track given thumbs up

$4.2m Upgrade of Darwin's track given thumbs up

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Fast track set pace for cracking year

IAN BUTTERWORTH
January 3rd, 2012



Sprinter Crystal Attenborough and Arafura Games mascot
Rocky gave the new Arafura Stadium athletics track the
thumbs up.



IAN BUTTERWORTH reviews the year that was in NT athletics

A $4.2 MILLION upgrade of the Arafura Stadium athletics track, in-field and surrounding facilities at Marrara which began in July 2010 was completed in time for the 2011 Arafura Games.

The track was officially opened in early March, just 64 days out from the Games, and upgrades included a newly laid running track, two new light towers and increased output from the existing lights, improved irrigation and drainage systems, new pole vault runways and boxes, better wheelchair access for athletes with disabilities and a new in-field.

Star Territory sprinter Crystal Attenborough gave her seal of approval after testing the track following its formal opening.

"It's a great track and I can't wait to do more training on it," she said. "We did a few 60s and 150s and everyone seemed happy with it.

"Not sure if it's going to be a fast track or slow track, so we'll have to wait until competition gets under way, but it feels great at the moment."

The track and in-field area were fully tested at the Arafura Games and a number of running records were broken, allaying fears Attenborough may have had about the speed of the surface.

At the Games, two PNG athletes in particular had a liking for the track after golden performances in the men's and women's open 400m hurdles finals. In what is considered the toughest event on the track agenda, PNG pair Wala Gime and Sharon Kwarula both won in stunning style.

Kwarula is a hurdles specialist from Port Moresby and she owned the race from the starter's gun.

Gime did not quite have the men's race to himself, but still won with a bit of room to spare from Indonesian flying machine Andrian Andrian and Malaysian gun Abdul Azlan Samsuddin.

The most anticipated event at any track meet is the final of the men's and women's 100m - the winners are crowned the fastest athletes at the tournament, and certainly all the respective finals at Arafura 2011 did not disappoint.

In front of an impressive crowd, the fastest able-bodied woman, and winner of the 2011 Arafura Games gold 100m was Rostina Rostina from Indonesia. The unassuming athlete was running at her first Arafura event and won over Thihang Tran (Vietnam) and Sharon Kwarula (PNG).

In the men's final Thailand's Jaran Sathoengram scorched down the 100m track to take the title in near record time.

Attenborough didn't compete at Arafura and instead was part of the Australian women's 4x100m relay team that travelled to the IAAF World Challenge Meeting in Kawasaki, Japan, to qualify for the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea. The Aussies' managed to qualify for Daegu, but the Territory flyer missed selection in the final five to attend the meet.

The Oceania Paralympian Championships were again held in conjunction with the Arafura Games and much was expected from Aussie dual world record holder Kelly Cartwright who was looking to add to her collection of titles. At the 2009 event, Cartwright exploded on to the world athletics scene when she broke the world record in the T42, 200m. She had earlier in 2011 won gold in the T42, 100m and broke the world record in the F42 long jump and came to Darwin determined to break the 100m world record. Unfortunately, she succumbed to injury and was unable to race.

A major highlight on the athletics scene was unassuming 10-year-old Katherine resident Nikaiya Payne who starred at the School Sport NT athletics titles in Darwin, winning each of her five events. The below-knee amputee won gold in the 100m, 200m, long jump, discus and shot-put and for good measure, she also pocketed the carnival best AWD award.

It was a dream come true for Darwin runner Darren Peacock after winning his first NT News, 12.7km, City2Surf fun run. Although Peacock's time of 43mins 20secs was well outside the race record of 40.06, he still skittled the field of more than 700 athletes, winning by a margin of more than four minutes from Paulo de Jesus (47.43) and Cain Gray (49.55).

Women's open winner was Alice Springs resident Emma Kraft (51.45) and it was also her maiden Darwin City2Surf victory. Darwin runner's Hannah Johnston (52.34) and Susanne Casanova (55.17) followed Kraft across the line.

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