Canterbury's Angie Smit made it three consecutive national women's 800m titles as her rival Nikki Hamblin put in a much improved effort to remain on track for Commonwealth Games qualification.
Smit won the 800m final at a blustery Newtown Park in Wellington today in a season's best time of 2min 01.53sec. Hamblin, dual 800m and 1500m silver medalist in Delhi four years ago, was second in a time of 2:03.23 after keeping pace with Smit until the 200m mark when the leader kicked clear.
There was seven seconds back to Auckland's Anna Bramley in third spot.
Smit has already qualified for Glasgow but was still happy with her season's best time to show she was on the right track.
"I knew I had to go from the gun. I wasn't sure how strong I'd find that wind but it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. I had to go quite early because Nikki has got a very strong kick. At the 200m I thought 'oh no is she coming' but I managed to go into another gear," Smit said.
Hamblin was all smiles too as she returns to full fitness after major surgery to remove bone spurs on both heels in late 2012. She only started running again a year ago.
She needs to run two B standards of 2:01.30, or one A standard of 1:59, by the end of May to qualify for the Games.
"It's awesome. I ran an 800m four weeks ago and it was 2:09 and that was all I had. I came here to compete and my coach said 'put pressure on Angie for as long as you can and hang on'. I definitely hung on a lot closer to her than what I did four weeks ago so we're heading in the right direction," Hamblin said.
"It's my second competitive 800m in about three years so I can't complain about that result. Angie's running awesome, she's fantastic and it's great for me because I can try and chase her down and get that qualifying time."
The pair will join 2012 London Olympian Lucy van Dalen in a much-awaited women's 1500m final tomorrow, with the Games B standard of 4:09 beckoning.
- Fairfax Media
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