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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Nick Hough homes in on world championships 200m spot

Nick Hough homes in on world championships 200m spot

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Sprinter homes in on world championships

By Georgina Robinson
Sydney Morning Herald
February 11, 2013

On track ... Sydney University's Nick Hough, left. Photo: Getty Images.

A HOT, late summer's day in Sydney and some stiff competition are all sprinter Nick Hough needs to take his career and Australian athletics to the next level.

One of the country's most exciting young athletes, Hough, 19, is 0.07 seconds off becoming the first Australian man in six years to compete in the 200 metres at a world championships.

The Sydney University student thinks next month's Sydney Track Classic is one of his best chances to run the time, provided the conditions are conducive and the field is competitive.

And while the weather may be hard to predict, the competition is solid. Athletics Australia has lured top American sprinter Calesio Newman to Sydney in the hope his presence at the starting line on March 9 will be just what Hough needs to run the qualifying time of 20.6s.

''Being so close, I feel like I need someone to push me along and he's definitely a good opportunity to do that,'' Hough said. ''I was focusing on Sydney and Perth [Track Classic a week later] as my two big chances to try to get the qualifier, and if he's running the 200m at both of those then that's a great opportunity to help me along.''

The last time Hough raced an American was in 2011. Just 17 at the time, Hough lined up alongside Sydney and Beijing 400m hurdles gold medallist Angelo Taylor and rose to the occasion.

''That was my first really big 200m meet and I managed to beat all the Australian 200m runners and that was the first time I'd done that … It really broke me into the senior ranks,'' Hough said. ''I've had good experiences having fast people in the race before so hopefully Calesio's another one of those.''

Newman, 26, missed selection to the London Olympics by 0.01s and travelled with the team as a reserve. He will run the 100m and 200m and is hoping to impress.

''This will be the start of what I hope is a big season for me, and a great time early would be awesome,'' Newman said. ''Fingers crossed the crowd get behind me and I can drop something they'll be impressed by.''

Newman, who has a 200m personal best of 20.28s, said he was looking forward to racing the promising young Australian.

''A PB of 20.67s at 19 is huge,'' he said. ''To compare that with me, I wasn't hitting times like that until I was about 24. If I were down there [in Australia] all the time, he'd be one I'd be keeping an eye on.''

Hough and London 400m finalist Steven Solomon are long-awaited bright spots on the Australian sprint-distance athletics landscape.

Solomon's breakthrough performance in London, which saw him shave a third of a second off his personal best in the heats before making the final, was the first time in 24 years an Australian was in the final of that event at an Olympics.

Hough, tall for sprinting at 191 centimetres, said he hoped he and Solomon could make their mark in a field dominated by Americans and Jamaicans. ''There aren't as many people to draw from here and obviously the Jamaicans seem to be better genetically than we are in Australia so, generally, I think we're just not made up for sprinting,'' Hough said. ''We've got some great coaches here in Australia for sprinting, that's not necessarily the problem, so hopefully Steve and I can come through and show that we can do well in Australian sprinting.''

Hough, the fastest man over 200m in Australia last year, has five or six opportunities to race the qualifying time before the world championships in Moscow.

He was encouraged by running 10.67s before Christmas. He followed that up with a win in the event at the Hunter Track Classic this month.

''I'm very confident [of running the qualifier]. It's not often you come out early in the season and run a time that quick, and I managed to do that, so I'm very hopeful that my training has been pretty good this season and I can come out and improve on what I've already done,'' Hough said.

''Probably five or six big races I've got the chance to get the time but some of them may be raining or not perfect conditions, so everything's really got to come together to get that time out.''

Australia's 4x100m relay team which set a national record in London last year - Josh Ross, Anthony Alozie, Andrew McCabe and Isaac Ntiamoah - will also run at the Sydney Track Classic at Sydney's Olympic Park.

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