New Australian middle distance sensation Zoe Buckman is hungry for a 1500m medal at the world athletics championships.
And having qualified fastest for Thursday night’s final, smashing her personal best along the way, she is suddenly in just the sort of form to satisfy that appetite.
Buckman, 24, got the tactics just right in the opening semi-final, sitting in second spot for much of the race and then sprinting down the inside to claim the win when an opportunity presented itself in the final straight.
By setting a PB of four minutes 4.82 seconds and becoming the first Australian woman to qualify for a 1500m final at a world championships, Buckman has already matched the two targets she set herself before arriving in Moscow.
Now it’s time to dream bigger.
“Honestly coming in I didn’t think I was capable of medals,” she said.
“My aim was just to get to the final and with what I have done the last few races I can see that I am capable of that.
“I have a fighting chance, and I have the kick down.
” … my expectations are the only thing that matter and they are quite high and I am hungry to medal.”
Buckman developed her racing skills while at university in Oregon before returning home to Melbourne to train under Nic Bideau.
“Nic teaches me how to be competitive and think big,” said Buckman, who has made steady improvements over the last couple of years before taking a giant leap forward in Moscow.
“I was a bit more tense in that race than in the heat because it just means so much to me to make the final and I was up against a harder bunch so I had to try and stay relaxed in the early stages of the race.
“Once I got through I told myself to just keep running hard right to the line and not just hang out for fourth place.”
Kenyan Faith Kipyegon was second, one hundredth of a second behind Buckman.
Abeba Aregawi of Sweden won the slower second semi in 4:05.66.
In other Australian action on day four, Julian Wruck threw well below his best to finish 11th in the men’s discus.
Wruck – who set his personal best of 68.16m in California in June – could do no better than 62.40m on Sunday to miss the halfway cut in the final.
Germany’s Robert Harting continued his modern-day domination of the event, claiming a third straight world title with a best throw of 69.11m to go with his London Olympics triumph.
Piotr Malachowski of Poland was second with 68.36m and Gerd Kanter of Estonia was third with 65.19m.
Australian duo Lauren Boden and Tristan Thomas were both eliminated in the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles.
Boden was second-last in her semi in 55.75 seconds, with Czech Zuzana Hejnova clocking the fastest qualifying time of 53.52 heading into Thursday night’s final.
Thomas didn’t fare any better in the men’s semis, where he was also seventh in his race in 49.91.