Jewish stars rise on national stage

Para speedster Ori Drabkin (centre) and Olympian Steven Solomon won gold on the national stage, while race walking sensation Jemima Montag struck silver as a host of Jewish athletics stars strutted their stuff at the Australian Track and Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park.

VICTORIAN teenage sprint sensation Ori Drabkin and Olympian Steven Solomon led the way for a talent-laden Jewish contingent at the 2019 Australian Track and Field Championships held at Sydney Olympic Park over the past week. 

The largest annual athletics event in Australia and Oceania-Pacific region saw seven Jewish athletes among more than 3500 track and field competitors of all ages pursue national medals, titles and selection in numerous teams, after a year’s training and anticipation.

Drabkin, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three, carried his hot form from last month’s state championships onto the national stage, leaving all in his wake as he claimed gold in the under 16 men’s para 100 meters last Monday.

Steven Solomon chatting to the media post-race. Photo: Athletics Australia

Solomon made a stunning return to the track in his first individual competitive race in 12 months, winning the open men’s 400m in 45.99sec, the best time by an Australian in 2019.

His first crack at the world championships qualifying time was a mere 0.69 seconds off the mark, promising signs for a fit-again star of the track.

Taking to social media, Solomon said, “A huge thank you to my team for helping me to my sixth national 400m title last night. I’m delighted with the result, and am full of energy for the season to come”.

Jemima Montag on her way to a silver medal and PB. Photo: David Tarbotton

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jemima Montag has met her match in recent times, with rising Queenslander Katie Hayward upstaging her in the open women’s 10km race walk.

After a gruelling battle, Montag was forced to settle for silver, but there was still major cause for celebration with her time of 43:51.47 a personal best over the distance. 

Both Montag and Hayward will represent Australia at the World Championships in Doha later this year.

Glenhuntly Athletic Club member Noah Kino put in an impressive showing in the under 17 women’s high jump, registering a PB jump of 1.69m, but it wasn’t enough to medal, ranking fourth overall on a count-back. 

Her jump proved to be a club and school record and qualifies her for next year’s junior Olympics. 

Israeli import Shanie Landen was up against a strong field in the open women’s 800m event, but her time of 2:08.44 was just shy of the final qualifying time. 

Landen will be back in Sydney next week to compete in the National Intervarsity Track and Field Competition.

Maccabi Victoria Athletics club member Jason Kozica advanced to the final of the open men’s 10km race walk, finishing seventh, while New South Wales pole vaulter Lizzie Baral didn’t reach the final of the open women’s event, after failing to clear a bar in the heats.

AARON FETTER