Glamour girl leads Aussie charge at world championships
MAYBE it was the rain that fell non-stop all day in London which ignited an Australian revival at the world championships, led by glamour girl Genevieve LaCaze.
Leading into day six of the championships, the green and gold machine had been stuck in first gear and going nowhere but in the space of just over an hour at the Olympic Stadium three finalists emerged.
LaCaze showed her class by putting aside an injury-riddled season to finish third in her 3000m steeplechase heat and earn an automatic path through to Friday night's final.
In the men's 5000m, Patrick Tiernan produced a Lazarus type resurrection to finish fourth and qualify automatically.
Back on night one of the championships, US-based Tiernan had finished last in the 10,000m final after almost stopping a number of times.
And in the women's long-jump, Melbourne's Brooke Stratton shrugged off her own injury wrecked season to grab the second last qualifying spot for the final.
LaCaze called on all of her experience from Rio where she made the steeple and 5000m finals to execute a perfect race plan.
After sitting fourth for most of the second half of the race the 28-year-old made her move over the final hurdle to seal a finals 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."
LaCaze has had a host of injury issues including a ruptured plantar fascia, an ankle problem and foot fracture.
Two months ago she thought her season was over.
"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."
Tiernan had no explanation for his 10,000m failure, admitted he was embarrassed by his 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 13min22.52sec.
"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."
Stratton, who finished seventh in the Rio Olympic final, missed the Australian summer because of injury and recently battled a groin injury.
She didn't think she'd make it to London and also didn't think her best leap of 6.46m would be enough to get her through to the world championships 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."