Birmingham on a fast track to Bahamas for world titles

COLLIS Birmingham’s duels with Americans on the track are well noted over the past month and have sounded a big warning to those set to meet him in the Bahamas this weekend.

Collis Birmingham. FILE IMAGE

Collis Birmingham. FILE IMAGE

Birmingham’s form indicates he is more than ready to take on the world for the inaugural IAAF World Relay Championships.

A 5000-metre Commonwealth Games qualifying time and shock upset in Los Angeles sharpened his preparation.

His latest scalp was, unexpectedly, Olympic 10,000-metre silver medallist Galen Rupp for the 5000m title in the USA Track and Field High Performance Distance Classic.

While Rupp is not named in the United States team for the only major world championship event this season, Birmingham looks set for a rematch with Leo Manzano – the man he formed a thrilling showdown with in the final leg, a mile, in a US versus the World medley relay in Pennsylvania late last month.

Manzano has been selected for Team USA in the men’s 4x1500m while Birmingham is pencilled in the Australian team for the 4x800m and 4x1500m events in Nassau.

Birmingham’s mile was faster than Manzano’s, an Olympic 1500m silver medallist, but his defeat of Rupp, late on a balmy LA night at the weekend, stunned the crowd.

The Ballarat athlete outkicked Rupp in the final 150m, off a 55.44-second final lap, to stop the clock at 13 minutes, 18.57 seconds.

This beats the Commonwealth Games A-qualifying standard and puts Birmingham’s name forward for the event in Glasgow. He is already an automatic qualifier for the 10,000m as reigning Australian champion for the distance.

Rupp crossed the line in 13:19.59 with a 56.66-second final lap. Ballarat Project stablemate Brett Robinson finished ninth in 13:46.33.

Fellow Ballarat Project athlete Ryan Gregson set a Commonwealth Games A-qualifier for 1500m, finishing third in the Los Angeles  meet.

Gregson, the Australian 1500m record holder, has all but secured his place for Glasgow after finishing second at the national championships on limited preparation.

Like Birmingham, Gregson has been selected for the 4x800m and 4x1500m Australian relay teams bound for the Bahamas this week.

Ballarat Project’s Selma Kajan edged closer to an A-qualifier for the women’s 800m in Glasgow.

Kajan, the national silver medallist, finished three-hundredths of a second short with a personal best of 2:02.13 and will also be back in action in the Bahamas, named in the Australian women’s 4x800m team.

Stablemate Brett Robinson finished 9th in 13:46.33 while former world junior representative Kevin Batt, who recently transferred allegiance to Ireland, was 11th in 13:51.64.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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