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Andrews-Paul reigns in US

Alison Andrews-Paul reacts after winning the 800m in record time at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

ATHLETICS

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

The 800m final at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships didn’t go the way Wairarapa middle-distance runner Alison Andrews-Paul anticipated, but that didn’t stop her running away with the title in record time.

Andrews-Paul had some strong performances leading into the championships at the Robert W Plaster Centre in Pittsburgh, Kansas, having bettered her personal best time three times this season.

Her championship-winning time of two minutes, 4.04 seconds was a personal best as well as a meet record and a track record.

Andrews-Paul said the race on a 300m track did not go as expected, but she stuck to her race plan, and it paid off.

“My race plan I executed exactly how I intended to, but in terms of how the race panned out, I didn’t quite expect it go out as hard as it did,” said Andrews-Paul.

“My coach [Britt Townsend] said she had never seen the 800 not go out fast, and I was anticipating it to be fast, but it was faster than I expected it to be through that first part.”

The 24-year-old slotted into a comfortable third place in the early running, with the fast pace ensuring the field spread out quickly.

“I tried to get in my groove and just relax in third. On the second lap, I just made sure to keep the gap small, and just stuck right on the first two and then in the home straight on the second lap, the second runner pulled wide a little bit and it opened up and I just seized the initiative and passed her on the inside,” she said.

“With 300m to go, I was in second, and then down the back stretch I knew I had to go so I swung wide to make the pass and the girl in first really resisted it and pushed back, and I tried to save something for the last 110m, but because she did that, I ended up going just full throttle.

“Going into the final bend, I was in the lead and just tried to accelerate as much as I could, but my legs were pretty tired at that point, so I was really just going as fast I could.”

Andrews-Paul was overjoyed with the result, saying it was worth all the sacrifices.

“It’s really tough to make the championships let alone to win it. It’s been a goal, but it’s one of those things that’s a good goal to keep you motivated. But you never really think it’s going to happen, and it’s kind of surreal.”

FLASHBACK: Andrews-Paul running in the 800m at the world U-20 championships in Poland in 2016.

The former Wairarapa College and Masterton Intermediate student’s aim for the upcoming outdoor season is to qualify for the conference championships and the NCAA championships.

That starts with qualifying meets in California and Washington in April.

After that, she will work to complete a master’s degree in public health at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, before a possible trip to New Zealand in September.

The former NZ U20 international, and winner of the 2016 Wairarapa Senior Sports Personality Award has still not given up on her dream of representing her country at a higher level, but said it is getting tougher.

“When I made that world U20 championships team, I really felt like I was definitely on the trajectory, but then I’ve had several tough years since then and not really improving.

“But I’m still enjoying the sport, so I had to not let go of those dreams but hold them less tightly and just enjoy the sport.”

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