Updated: Mar 17
Rising walks star Katie Hayward (Griffith University) and Commonwealth Games champion Jemima Montag (The University of Melbourne) have finished one, two and combined with Philippa Huse (Monash University) to take the team gold in the 20km walk in a triumphant morning on the roads of Naples.
Hayward made her move after 40 minutes and was never headed to win in 1:33.30, 27 seconds clear of teammate Montag in second with Anezka Drahotova from Czech Republic third in 1:35.44.
Despite the 7am start time the conditions were tough with the temperature soaring to 34 degrees with no shade along the 2km loop.
“It was more of a mental challenge really, from 1k, just going around and around, but we worked together,” 18-year-old Gold Coaster Hayward said.
Montag, who won the Oceania title ahead of Hayward last month, was happy to see her young teammate take the win.
“It was hot out there, but it's such a pleasure to watch your teammate succeed like that,” Montag said.
“If I had to be silver behind anyone, I am really happy that it was Katie.”
The duo have become close helping each other in the lead up and during the event.
“We have been on two camps together this year - one in Canberra at the start of the year and then Cairns after Nationals and just working together and even just contacting each other to see how we are, it's such a great bond I think we have,” Hayward said.
“Even throughout the race, at the 6-7km mark, Jem was like ‘let’s go, we can jump these girls’.”
The result is just the fourth time in Universiade history the UniRoos have produced a 1-2 finish and the third time in athletics (Swimming in 1999 Mallorca, Spain - 100m butterfly - Adam Pine gold Burl Reid silver, Athletics in 2003 Daegu Korea – Heptathlon - Kylie Wheeler gold and Jane Jamieson silver and Athletics in 2009 Belgrade - 800m - Madeline Pape gold Kaila McKnight silver).
Hayward is the 18th athlete to collect gold for Australia in athletics at a Summer Universiade and only the second racewalker, the first being Olympic bronze medallist Dane Bird-Smith in the 2015 Gwangju Games.
The pair along with teammate Philippa Huse (Monash University), who finished 16th in 1:44.09, also took gold in the racewalk team event finishing in a combined time of 4:51.36, ahead of Ukraine in 4:58.02 and China with 4:59.53.
“I'm so thrilled with a gold team medal as well, that’s exciting too,” Montag said.
This triple medal haul takes the team tally from Naples to 12 – five gold, two silver and bronze - two more medals that in Taipei two years ago.