Australia has won its first medal at the 2022 World Athletics Under 20 Championships, with 18-year-old Calab Law claiming bronze in the 200m in a time of 20.48-seconds to lead the nation’s most talented juniors on day four in Cali, Colombia.
Entering the bout ranked sixth despite a personal best of 20.42 in the semi-final, Law’s chances were not aided by an uncharacteristically slow start. The Australian rallied to hit top gear and charge to third place, only topped by an equal championship record of 19.96 from Blessing Akawasi Afrifah (Israel) and Letsile Tebogo (Botswana).
“I was so tempted to look over my shoulder because I didn’t really feel anybody up next to me. I knew the two boys were up in front, but I was not sure at all – I had to wait to see my name up there,” Law said.
“The medal for me is like another step, it’s the next level. When I get into my Open season I will be better than ever.”
The result came to the elation of both Law and the Australian Team, who had come close to the podium with Mitchell Lightfoot (fourth) and Tayleb Willis (equal fifth) in the 110m Hurdles on day three – now receiving a much-needed boost ahead of the final two days of competition.
“Everyone is going to be a bit more up and energised because they know we can do it. We could have done it in every single event so far, but we are here now,” Law said.
A proud indigenous man from the Wakka Wakka tribe, Law’s success adds a fresh page to a rich chapter of Australian athletics history, with Law well on his way to etching his own name alongside track and field royalty.
“My favourite sprinter ever is Cathy Freeman. She was the best – so smooth, so relaxed, so long. I always try to replicate the way that she runs but she is too perfect,” Law said.
“My aunty was an amazing sprinter, Aunty Karla, she coached me when I was 12 [years-old]. They are all indigenous Wakka Wakka, my tribe is from North Queensland and they would all be really happy – they were watching me on the big screen,” Law said.
Coached by Andrew Iselin, the World Athletics Under 20 Championships are not his first taste of the global stage, having competed at the World Athletics Championships last month in Eugene, Oregon – where he made the semi-final.
“Eugene was little warmup to get used to the noise and everyone being around you, and running against really fast people,” Law said.
Olympian and 2019 World Athletics Championships representative Ellie Beer added to the Australian success in the session, finishing in seventh place of the Women’s 400m Final in a time of 52.82. The result off the back of a 52.55 performance in the semi-finals, with the 19-year-old rediscovering the form that has long had her touted as a star of the future.
Toby Stolberg (16-years-old) and Erin Shaw (17-years-old) also impressed on day four with 1.80m clearances in the qualifying round of the Women’s High Jump, ensuring that there will be two Australian women in the final – a familiar sight on the world stage.
Australia has fielded a team of 53 athletes at the 2022 World Athletics Under 20 Championships, which take place from August 1-6 in Cali, Colombia.
Thanks to Athletics Australia