“It’s a fricken kicker!” Heartache for Beaudesert Bullet
IN a race which echoed to the big footsteps beside her, Queensland teen Riley Day felt a "a punch in the guts'' when she missed the Commonwealth Games 200m final by just .01sec.
Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Jamaica's Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson and England's 2014 Glasgow Games 200m bronze medallist Bianca Williams raced the 18-year-old out of the 200m semi-finals at Carrara Stadium in fourth place.
All ran in the three forbidding lanes inside the lane of Day, who drew the strongest of the three semi-finals, which permitted only two direct qualifiers each, plus the two fastest other women in the semis.
Williams gained the eighth and last place in the final with a time of 23.23sec after Day (23.24) lunged desperately at her at the end of a stronger closing 20m.
"One hundred of a second … it's a frickin' kicker,'' a rueful Day, from Beaudesert, said.
"She (Williams) beat me by that much last time we raced (in Brisbane on March 28).
"It's a punch in the guts, but it wasn't meant to be. It's my second fastest time. Ninth in the Commonwealth ain't so bad I guess. It's been an awesome experience.''
Bahamas sprinter Miller-Uibo (22.48 sec, headwind 0.3m/s), won the semi, from a less than convincing Thompson (22.91).
"I was trying to ignore Elaine and Shaunae because I knew they were in a different league,'' Day said.
"I was trying to run my own race.''
"I told her not to be disappointed. It was so so close,'' mum Nicky said.
"It's still been an amazing experience.
"I told her this morning that it was going to be sold out and everyone would be cheering for her.
"Before the Games she had really only raced in front of 20 people before.
"She'll only get better and we're so proud of her."
Australian teammates Maddie Coates (fourth in heat one in 23.43) and Larissa Pasternatsky (fifth in heat three in 23.64) also missed the final.
Day, who still has Australia's 4x100m relay race to come, will reflect on her first Commonwealth or Olympics that she was unable to get close enough to the 22.93 personal best she achieved in the national 200m final in mid-February, also at Carrara.
It provokes the question, how good is Day at age 18?
She is enough of a competitor to have clipped .33 off her 200m personal best in the last race in which she could post a qualifying time in the event for these Commonwealth Games.
Two Australian women this century have posted a faster personal best: Ella Nelson, who was 22 when she clocked 22.50 in 2016, and Sharon Cripps, who was 25 when she clocked 22.84 in 2003.
A 17-year-old Raelene Boyle clocked 22.74 in winning an astonishing silver medal at the 1968 Mexico Games.
In all of Australian athletics history, Day, at 17 years and 11 months, is the youngest to have won the national titles sprint double.
Day will now take a break before resuming training for July's world under-20 championships in Finland, at which she will run the 100m and 200m.
"Even though I'm really young, I still want to do really well,'' Day said.