A late change of plan paid off in the best possible fashion for Nelson-based speedster Lucy Sheat at the national track and field championships in Hamilton over the weekend.
The 18-year-old sprinter, who has qualified at 100 and 200m for the world under-20 champs later in the year, originally thought she was compelled to compete in the under-20 events at Porritt Stadium as a selection trial for the worlds.
However, she sought dispensation from Athletics NZ to compete at senior level in the national 200m and was given permission to take on the older runners.
Her late decision proved solid gold, Lucy beating a high-class field to claim her first national senior crown.
“It was a late decision, but I’m definitely pleased we made it … it just made sense to give it a crack,” says Lucy.
“We just wanted to get some good conditions and strong competition.”
“It was a challenge … I knew it was going to be a really good field who would push me.”
They certainly did, but not hard enough to stop her claiming the prestigious 200m gold, her third medal of the championships to go with another gold in the under-20 100m and a silver in the senior 4x400m relay.
On Saturday, Lucy showed her readiness for the senior 200m decider when she won her heat, registering 24.99.
In the final she flew down the track to stop the clock in 24.19, shading fellow NZ reps Olivia Eaton (24.32) and Zoe Hobbs (24.33) and underlining her standing as the nation’s quickest woman over 200m.
Starting from lane six, on the outside, Lucy was unsure whether she was in front at the finish.
“I had no idea where they were … you can kind of sense them, but I just went for it … kept pushing hard and did enough to get across the line ahead of them.”
“It’s exciting to win my first senior title. I’m pretty happy with the weekend.”
On Friday, Lucy claimed back-to-back under-20 100m titles. She won her heat, then took out the final in some comfort, her time of 12.08 leaving her well clear of second-placegetter, Canterbury’s Anna Hayward, who registered 12.36.
Sheat’s time was well shy of her personal best, a national secondary schools record 11.59.
In the relay, she combined with fellow Tasman athletes Hayley Bond, Samantha Hardie and Amanda Fitisemanu to pick up a second placing on Sunday afternoon.