King Islander Stewart McSweyn's gallant race for the nation

LET'S GO: Stewart McSweyn trails countryman Patrick Tiernan in the men's Commonwealth Games 10,000m final at Carrara Stadium on Friday night. Picture: AAP
LET'S GO: Stewart McSweyn trails countryman Patrick Tiernan in the men's Commonwealth Games 10,000m final at Carrara Stadium on Friday night. Picture: AAP

Stewart McSweyn found plenty of positives from his maiden Commonwealth Games appearance after he backed up his fifth place in the 5000m by finishing 11th in the 10,000m final.

In a fast race won inside a new Commonwealth Games record of 27:19.62 by Joshua Cheptegei, the King Islander was roared to the finish by the capacity Carrara Stadium crowd 1:39.40 later than the Ugandan winner.

“It’s still a good learning experience being against a world-class field and that was a Games record, which shows it wasn't an easy pace,” McSweyn said.

“It was a pretty crazy pace. I thought I was ready for any kind of race, but I think I still felt a bit heavy from that 5k. 

“That took a bit out of me, but no excuse, I’ve just got to get better. I was happy to sit at the back because it was quick – it was pretty much Aussie record pace. 

“I knew I just had to relax early. Previously when I’ve done 10k, I’ve got to halfway feeling comfy, but today I had a look up at 13 laps to go and knew it was going to be a long day from there.

“With a couple of laps to go, I thought at least break 29, so I was happy I could rally a bit in that last couple of laps and dip under that.

“But I definitely took some good experience from it and have had one good race here, so I’ve gained confidence from the championship.”

McSweyn admitted that expectations had been pretty high from his Melbourne Track Club.

“Definitely happy with the 5k, but 10k – a lot of room for improvement needed,” he said. “But I’m only 22 – I’ve still got time to get up to the world level that was showcased tonight.”

Asked what he considered his optimum event, McSweyn, who has experience at athletics, cross-country and university world championships, pointed towards the 5000m.

“I just don't think I’ve had the hard years of running yet to be competitive at the 10k,” he said.

“At world level, I think I’m ranked 21 in the 5k right now, so I think in any field I can be competitive on the world stage.

“My next goal is to get overseas and run fast.

“I definitely think I can run a fast 10ks, so if I can do one over in Europe I want to make sure I can at least get that Tassie record.

“David Chettle holds it with 28.17. It’s one of the ones I don’t have so that and the 1500m are the ones I'll be trying to get overseas this year.”

It has proven a long way from the beef and marino farms of King Island to the glitz of Gold Coast on a Friday night during the glamour middle-distance race. The 22-year-old’s finish was more gutsy than epic.

RUN FOR THE HILLS: Support for Stewart McSweyn from his King Island home ahead of Friday night. Picture: Twitter

RUN FOR THE HILLS: Support for Stewart McSweyn from his King Island home ahead of Friday night. Picture: Twitter

But in his major competition final debut, the first-ever King Islander at a Commonwealth Games would take that experience.

He started the initial laps at the back of a second pack, sitting two spots behind 10th-placed countryman Pat Tiernan in the 14-man final.

McSweyn slowly pushed up through the field and sat on Tiernan’s shoulder before passing the Queenslander early in the 25 laps.

But the Australian pair fell well off the main group – more than 100 metres behind – just three laps later.

McSweyn got lapped with just over two laps left, but kicked on well to work his way through the field.

The Tasmanian finished two spots behind Tiernan.

The run from the Australian pair in the final was the best 10,000m performance since Craig Mottram at Melbourne 2006. 

Launceston basketballers Chris Goulding and Lucas Walker begin Tasmanian involvement on Saturday when the Boomers face a semi-final against Scotland, while Hobart’s Eddie Ockenden and Jeremy Edwards feature in the hockey gold medal match.