ATHLETICS: Yamba athlete Celia Sullohern has booked herself a one-way ticket to the 2018 Commonwealth Games with what is arguably the biggest victory of her running career.
The scenario was obvious for the multi-talented 25-year-old. As the fourth- ranked marathon runner in Australia, Sullohern was unlikely to earn selection for the Commonwealth Games team on the road. Next prospect the track.
Competing in the 57th Zatopek in Melbourne on Thursday, Sullohern confirmed her distance track ability by winning the Australian 10,000m title, earning automatic nomination for the Games next April.
Favourite was Eloise Wellings who over the past few years has seemingly been at a peak in her career at the age of 35. In-form marathoner Jess Trengove was another considered podium potential, while Celia Sullohern was an outside hope.
By mid-race a clear lead pack of four, comprising Wellings, Trengove, Sullohern and former winner Emily Brichacek, was piloting the field.
The expected pressure came inside the last kilometre, with first Brichacek, then Wellings, unable to sustain the pace.
Over the last lap Sullohern pulled away from Trengove for a clear five- second victory, in the all-important B qualifying standard. She ran a 34-second PB of 32:31.22, with Trengove clocking 32:35.06.
"It was such a buzz to be out there running with the girls and to see how my legs are going back on the track," Sullohern said
"To come away with a win is an absolute bonus.
"(The Commonwealth Games) had not been on my radar until the Melbourne Marathon (which she won in October).
"Each race I'm pleasantly surprised and I hope it keeps going for a while."
There was a special moment after the race, when a dejected Wellings took the time to speak encouragingly to her rival.
"She just said congratu- lations on how well I have been going this year and to try and keep that momen- tum going," Sullohern said.
"That means a lot coming from an athlete of her calibre."