Stars thrill and spill at titles

THERE is still a day's competition to go at the Australian Track and Field Championships in Melbourne but already a swathe of dreams have been realised and equally many, if not more, dashed.

The added importance of Commonwealth Games selection in 2014 has provided the platform from which at least a dozen new international careers have already been launched. It can safely be assumed that there will be more come this afternoon's closing session.

Morgan Mitchell was regarded as a more than promising Victorian state netballer.

She is now Australia's fastest woman over 400 metres and an automatic selection for the Games in Glasgow.

Her winning time yesterday of 52.22 was a personal best of more than a second.

The country has had poor depth in the event - historically its best - in recent years.

But Mitchell's rise, as it happens predicted more than a year ago by the watchful eye of Cathy Freeman's mentor, Peter Fortune, suddenly provides some hope - especially when combined with the simultaneously rising careers of Anneliese Rubie and Caitlin Sargent.

After struggling to qualify a women's 4 x 400 metres relay team for the past couple of years, things are suddenly looking up.

This is exactly the sort of phenomenon driven by achievable selection standards.

This is exactly the sort of phenomenon driven by achievable selection standards.

When Athletics Australia suddenly got all elite about selection for Delhi in 2010, not much happened at all even with the stay-away attitude adopted by the top athletes from many other countries.

A state association-based push to return to the sort of selection policies that have served Australia well for Commonwealth Games and the years that follow, has been rewarded by well- prepared and enthusiastic athletes.

Of course the established stars have also shone - Sally Pearson made a defence of her Games 100m crown a possibility by winning yesterday's national title.

She is of course aware that the cast list for Glasgow will be a lot tougher in the straight sprint than in Delhi.

It means that the 100m hurdles, in which she will attempt to win a seventh national championship today, will be a more realistic target come July.

Although even that will still be tough given the quality of the Caribbean and British athletes.

WA javelin thrower Kim Mickle continued her immaculate domestic season with another world-class performance in the women's javelin - hurling the spear out to 64.28 metres.

There were disappointments among the top echelon for sure with another Delhi champion, Alana Boyd no-heighting in the polevault and placing her selection fate in the hands of the selectors.

A positive answer should however be forthcoming given her total and clear dominance of the rest of the domestic season.

Victoria Mitchell, no relation to Morgan, recovered from her dip into the water jump at the Melbourne Track Classic two weeks ago, to complete a fine return from a long period of injury with a strong win in qualifying time in the 3000 metres steeple.

Today, it will be the Tasmanians turn to really stand up - featuring 400m hurdler Tristan Thomas, a more than a realistic chance to be both the national champion and the top qualifier in his event for Glasgow.

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