The Riley Day era has dawned.
The 17-year-old Queenslander was being hailed as the youngest woman to win the 100m-200m double at the Australian championships yesterday, after confirming her place in the Commonwealth Games team by winning the 200m in a personal best of 22.93sec.
That time, run into a stiff 1.7m/sec headwind, puts her in illustrious company. Only two other Australian junior women have run faster, Raelene Boyle (22.74sec) and Jenny Lamy (22.88sec), and they ran those times at altitude to win the silver and bronze medals at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.
“It’s just really icing on the cake, national champion, A-qualifier and PB. I couldn’t ask for anything more,’’ Day said.
“To run that time with a massive headwind is reassuring that I could potentially run faster soon.’’
Day, who hails from Beaudesert in the Gold Coast hinterland and is about to start a nursing degree at Griffith University, has long been Australia’s outstanding junior female sprinter but has now made a seamless transition to the senior ranks.
She first sprang into public consciousness during last year’s Nitro series when she ran a mixed relay leg against the world’s greatest sprinter Usain Bolt and had the temerity to trash-talk him before the race. From there she went on to qualify for her first Australian senior team for last year’s world championships, where she ran in the heats of the 200m for experience.
Six months later, Day is a different athlete. She dominated both the 100m and 200m at Carrara tadium, which will be the Commonwealth Games venue in April. Her winning time in the 100m (11.56sec) left her short of the qualifying mark in that event but she will run the 200m and probably the 4x100m relay.
Victorian Maddison Coates also qualified for the Games team yesterday, finishing second in a personal best of 23.06sec.
Day once favoured the 100m and was a reluctant 200m runner but as her results have improved over the longer sprint she has warmed to the event.
“I think the 200 is my best at the moment,’’ she said. “I still have a love-hate relationship with it. I always get so nervous before it but if you get the results from it you’ve got to keep doing it.’’
This time last year, Day’s big athletic ambition was to qualify for the Australian team for the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, where she won the 200m and finished second in the 100m. Since then her whole world has opened up.
This article originally appeared at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/2018-commonwealth-games/riley-day-makes-history-with-sprint-double-at-australian-championships/news-story/d671a2d59b4096707b0c845324b80099