VICTORIOUS in Athletics Bendigo’s memorial finals, Melissa Douglas and Cameron Smith will now target success at the upcoming Victoria Country track and field championships.
Douglas and Smith will be among hundreds to compete at the Bendigo Regional Athletics Complex in Retreat Road, Flora Hill across the weekend of January 28 to 30.
A long-time athlete with Bendigo University Pride, Douglas aims to compete in the 1500m and 10km.
Smith is a first-year competitor with Eaglehawk and is likely to play a key role in the club’s quest to be country champions for the fifth year running.
The 16-year-old plans to compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, triple jump, and some relays.
Douglas and Smith were in hot form at Athletics Bendigo’s Memorials Night run last Saturday at Flora Hill.
Richard Kitt Memorial 1500m
A long-time competitor who first began with YCW in under-10s and later joined Uni Pride in ’93, Douglas took out the Richard Kitt Memorial 1500m, sponsored by Parker Electrical.
Douglas began from the 20-second mark and hit the front just after the bell to signal the final lap.
Those in pursuit included Uni clubmate James (Jim) Russell, Bendigo Harriers’ Lucas Matthews, and South Bendigo young gun Logan Tickell from the 2.45 mark.
After no racing in the 2020-21 season, Douglas gradually built strength by racing at AB meets on Saturday afternoons or the Tuesday night series.
The mum of two worked extremely hard in the last 400 metres.
Among those cheering loudly were husband Ross who raced in the Conroy heats.
For the race victor it was a stunning result:
“I never win anything,” Melissa Douglas said.
“This is so unexpected, but exciting.
Douglas said the last lap was one of the best she has run on the Flora Hill track.
“I didn’t dare look back.”
Victory capped a great fightback from the previous season where she didn’t race, but was able to do limited training.
A multiple winner of Wycheproof’s King of the Mountain and top orienteer and rogainer, Russell was runner-up from the 55-second mark and Matthews was third.
Logan Tickell took fastest time honours in 4:15.
Sally Conroy Memorial 200m
There were some closely-fought finishes in the heats and semi-finals of the Sally Conroy Memorial 200m, sponsored by G.M. and G.L. Hilson Builders.
Cameron Smith marked an unbeaten run to be crowned the Conroy champion of 2022 after he clocked times of 23.03, 22.87 and 22.92 from the four-metre mark.
The strength he has gained from 400m hit-outs played a big part in the windy conditions.
It was an Eaglehawk trifecta for the second year running as Smith caught Alan Anderson, 20m, and multiple Paralympic gold medallist Tim Sullivan, 27m, just metres from the line.
Next best were Hawks’ clubmate Jorja Morrison, Bendigo Harriers’ Joshua Evans and Lachlan Carr, and South Bendigo’s Naomi Henderson.
“I was rapt to be in the final, so to win is an incredible feeling,” Smith said.
Among those trackside were mum, Amy, and his grandfather Mike Greenwood, a long-time editor of the Bendigo Advertiser.
Smith dedicated the win to his grandfather, Robert Smith who passed away a week earlier.
“He loved athletics, and talking about athletics.”
A talented soccer player for Spring Gully, Smith took up athletics training about nine months ago and has impressed in all rounds of AVSL in Bendigo.
“I was outsprinting a lot of opponents on the soccer pitch, so Mum spoke to me about having a go at track racing.
“Terry Hicks (coach) has helped me so much, and I have improved a lot and learnt from racing against athletes like Kye Mason, Oliver Muggleton and Angus McKindlay,” said Smith.
In winter Smith will move up to playing seniors for Spring Gully in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League where he is likely to be at centre-back.
Memorials Night included the Intersport Bicknells-sponsored 200m and 800m for Little Athletics which were won by Naomi Henderson from Maryborough LA, and by April Wainwright from Bendigo Little Athletics.
View the results from the 2022 Richard Kitt Memorial 1500m and Sally Conroy Memorial 200m events.