Genevieve LaCaze of Australia competes in the women's 3000m steeplechase heats.
Genevieve LaCaze of Australia competes in the women's 3000m steeplechase heats. Alexander Hassenstein

Aussies exceed expectations in reaching world titles finals

TWO months ago Genevieve LaCaze thought her season was over.

Less than a week ago Patrick Tiernan's world championships looked over.

Then in the space of an hour the two Australian distance runners defied predictions to progress to world championships finals.

LaCaze, a finalist in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m in Rio, has had a host of injury issues this year including a ruptured plantar fascia, an ankle problem and foot fracture.

"Worlds was not even a possibility two months ago - I thought I was going home," LaCaze said.

"I have had a terrible year. Coming off 2016 I didn't picture 2017 being like this. I have raced once so that was a weight on my shoulders.

"I thought if I got to a final, I will run so free and relaxed so if that (heat) was calm then I will be so calm in the final."

The new "calm" LaCaze - she says she is normally the irrational, crazy one in her relationship with 1500m star Ryan Gregson - showed all her class, closing over the last hurdle of her steeplechase heat to grab the third automatic qualifying spot.

"Seriously I came into this going I hope I can snag a time," LaCaze said.

"But when the race just started playing out, I just felt so good lap after lap and I thought I'm not getting tired, stop worrying about time you can get a top-three spot.

"I just positioned myself behind the third girl thinking you have got one shot, there is one bullet in the chamber, just hold and come through when you are the most confident."


Patrick Tiernan of Australia during heat two of the men's 5000m.
Patrick Tiernan of Australia during heat two of the men's 5000m. David Ramos

Tiernan produced a Lazarus-type resurrection given on the opening night of the championships he tailed off in the 10,000m final, appearing disorientated during the final stages as he was lapped.

Five days later he turned up in the heats of the 5000m and ran brilliantly, finishing fourth to gain automatic entry into the final.

Tiernan, who has spent the past few years in the US college system, had no explanation for his 10,000m failure, admitting he was embarrassed by the performance.

"I've never personally had a result like that in the 10k," he said. "I'm still trying to figure out what happened but that's something for after the championships and the end of the season, to look at what happened.

"I thought I was pretty buggered."

Rather than dwell on the result, the 22-year-old spent time with friends and family and didn't give the 5000m any thought until an hour before the event.

It was a masterstroke as he maintained a position at the front over the final four laps to finish fourth in 13min 22.52sec.

"To be honest I didn't really think about this race today until about an hour beforehand," Tiernan said. "It's hard putting it behind you but at the end of the day you go out on the track and everything else disappears, you just focus on the guy in front of you and get going."

Long-jumper Brooke Stratton, who finished seventh in the Rio Olympics final, also shrugged off an injury-interrupted season to make the world championships final.

The 24-year-old missed the Australian summer because of injury and has recently battled a groin problem.

She didn't think she'd make it to London and also didn't think her best leap of 6.46m in the wet conditions would be enough to get her through to the final.

"I had frozen feet which isn't ideal for jumping and made it quite difficult," Stratton said. "I'm just glad I did enough to get through to the final."

News Corp Australia

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