James Preston ran an impressive New Zealand under 20 record, placing seventh in his semi-final of the men’s 800m at the World Under 20 Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The 19 year old drew the toughest of the three semi-finals and was pulled through to his best ever time of 1:48.06 to break Jason Stewart’s 1:48.73 national record. Preston’s time would have won the second semi-final comfortably.
Stewart placed seventh in the final at the 2000 World U20 Championships and went on to represent New Zealand at the 2004 Olympics and finished 5th at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
It was a very successful championships for Preston, winning his heat and then finishing with an overall ranking of 13th at his first international event.
Going into the championships with the 27th fastest time of the 33 competitors, Preston has emerged as a big talent to bolster New Zealand’s resurgent middle distance stocks. Alison Andrews-Paul made the semi-final of the women’s 800m and Olivia Burdon is through to tomorrow’s final of the 1500m.
The tall Wellingtonian, who emerged with a surprise victory at February’s Porritt Classic is coached by Evan Cooper and looks to have a bright future in the event.
On the final day of the championships Olivia Burdon will be the only Kiwi in action.
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