12 Feb Country Championships 2016




The 71st Victorian Country Athletics Championships held at Landy Field over the weekend saw much success come the way of local Geelong athletes.


Geelong Athletics hosted the three day event, attracting a record entry of 865 athletes who managed 2,378 event entries. The Championships concluded Sunday evening with the presentation of awards to athletes and clubs.


The strength of Geelong athletes stood out when both the female and male Australia Day awards for athlete of the meet were awarded to Coreena van der Klooster of Deakin and Christian Davis of Corio.


Van der Klooster was successful in winning both the women’s open 1500 metres and 3km steeplechase country championships in 4:33.77 and 10:38.43 respectively.


Davis, 16, won gold medals when he took out the 400 / 800 metre double in 48.55 seconds and 1:51.95 respectively.


Other local winners of major awards were Oliver Courtnay of Chilwell and Mia Gross of Geelong Guild. Courtnay was awarded the Joyce Lockyer Memorial Shield – a field event award, when he won the men’s under 16 discus (45.82m), hammer throw (39.30m) and shot put (15.08m). Gross was awarded the Stuart Hunter Memorial Trophy as the outstanding under 16 athlete of the meet, when she won the triple sprint crown of 100 metres (12.17s), 200 metres (24.76s) and 400 metres (56.78s).


Donna Burgess of Albury and Peter O’Dwyer from Ballarat Harriers were awarded the veteran athlete of the meet medals, which have been donated by Athletics Chilwell for annual presenation.


In the hotly contested team scores, Geelong club Chilwell led on the start of the final day by 90 points. Whilst they competed strongly throughout the day, allowing them to win the prestigious Ex Athletes Cup (660.83 points) for only the second time, 50 years after Geelong Guild first won this award for the first time in 1966, they were not strong enough to close the gap with Bendigo Harriers, who won the David Kitt Trophy for men’s competition for the fifth consecutive year.


Thus, the overall competition for the Margaret Saunders Country Cup was taken out for the second year in a row by the Bendigo Harriers with 1,663.5 points. Chilwell finished second with a score of 1,525.83 points and 2008 to 2012 winners Eaglehawk were third with 1,041 points.


Former Commonwealth Games and World Championship representative, Corio’s Damian Birkinhead won a gold medal in the men’s open shot put with a distance of 20.32 metres, agonisingly 18 centimetres short of the qualifying distance for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.


In one of the Country Championships most hotly contested events over the years, 2016 did not disappoint spectators when the men lined up for the open 100 metres final. After a short delay, which seemed to only intensify the excitement, three athletes crossed the line virtually together, separated only by the photo-finish camera. Local Geelong Guild athlete Kevin Brittain was given the nod ahead of Eaglehawks Joshua Henthorn and South Bendigo’s Zachariah Nelson; all three running 11.39 seconds. Joshua Pickthall of South Bendigo was only a step behind in 11.43 seconds.


With the final events of the weekend being the team based relays, an exciting finale was assured from local clubs when Chilwell won five gold, one silver and two bronze medals and Geelong Guild took home five gold medals also and one silver medal.

Of the other Geelong clubs, Geelong Guild finished with 962 points, Corio with 414.5 points, Bellarine with 227 points and Deakin with 220 points from the weekend’s events.


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