Collis Birmingham claims Commonwealth Games spot

COLLIS Birmingham has booked his spot in the Commonwealth Games by reclaiming the Australian men’s 10,000-metre crown.

Birmingham last night captured automatic selection for Glasgow as the first Australian across the line in a powerful run for the Zatopek:10 headline race.

The Games will mark the seventh straight year Birmingham will represent Australia at a major athletics championship.

Ballarat’s Birmingham formed a thrilling battle with American Sam Chelanga, born in Nairobi, breaking clear ahead of the field with 10 laps to go at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne.

Birmingham stuck with Chelanga until deep in the race with 800m to go.

The American surged ahead, taking a 50-metre lead on Birmingham for the last lap, and had the crowd on its feet when he cross the line in 27 minutes, 46.06 seconds.

His final kilometre was a scorching two minutes, 36 seconds.

Birmingham clocked a time of 27:56.22 for his third Australian 10,000m title and the first in four years.

“With it being the Commonwealth Games selection trial, the main thing was to win under that B time,” said Birmingham, who has qualified for every Olympic, world championships and Commonwealth team since 2008.

“If I did that, I knew I’d be going to Glasgow and that’s the important thing.

“It’s the basis for your whole yearly plan so, if you can get something out of the way early, it’s good.”

Birmingham, 29, wants to contest the 5000m and 10,000m in Glasgow, having finished sixth and ninth respectively at the previous Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

New South Wales’ Harry Summers was third last night in 28:16.05. Ballarat’s Nathan Hartigan and Duer Yoa were also in action for the men’s 10,000m race last night.

with AAP

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