FOUR of Tasmania’s most promising young distance runners got an early Christmas present after breaking the 24-year-old Australian record for the under 16 4x1500m relay at the St Leonards Track in Launceston on Friday night.

In an event held in conjunction with Athletics Tasmania’s Northern Branch’s pre-Christmas interclub meet, the quartet of Ben Robinson, Biniyam Hagos, Hugh Nicklason and Kale Adams shaved nearly three seconds off the mark of 17:08.08 set by New South Wales in November 1987.

The talented Tassie foursome set a new time of 17:05.35.

Athletics Tasmania president Brian Roe said that it was a wonderful result for the athletes and for the state’s youth development program.

“It is really pleasing to see such depth once again in male middle distance running in Tasmania,” Roe said.

“It has been our long-term traditional area of strength but in recent years it has been the throwers and the women distance runners who have produced most of our success.

“This group together with the likes of 16-year-old Jacob Birtwhistle, who has dominated his age categories at national level for the past two years, show that the dedication of our coaches and their young charges, together with our programs like the ATIS development program jointly run by AT and the TIS are enabling athletics in Tasmania to make real progress across the broad spectrum of events.”

Roe said the result was not that surprising considering the talent within the group, but it nonetheless required some additional skills.

“Kale, Bini and Hugh have each been national individual champions in the past 18 months and Ben is showing real improvement which often happens when the age group is strong in a particular discipline,” he said.

“But running individual legs of a 4x1500m relay one after one another is quite different to running as a group to gain individual personal bests in a regular 1500m race.”

He said that the result was particularly impressive when it is considered that Robinson turned 15 earlier this month and Hagos has not yet had his 14th birthday.

The boys will now concentrate on individual success for the rest of the season focusing on the Australian Age Championships in Sydney in March followed a week later by the IGA Tasmanian Track and Field Championships.

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