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Aussie Moloney impresses at world indoors

Olympic bronze medal winner Ash Moloney has made a striking start at the world indoor championships in his quest for another global podium finish.

Australia’s brilliant young multi-eventer began the team’s challenge in Belgrade on Friday with some excellent performances that suggested he can add a heptathlon medal to his Tokyo decathlon gong.

The 22-year-old Queensland allrounder, competing in his very first indoor competition, seemed quite unfazed by his new challenge in the Serbian capital as he lay third after three of the seven events.

He opened up his busy morning at the Belgrade Arena with a remarkable victory in his 60-metre heat, clocking 6.70 seconds, a time only Canada’s Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner could surpass in the second race.

Moloney’s debut at the short sprint was so impressive it was easily the best by any Australian sprinter this year and put him fifth on the country’s indoor all-time list.

In the long jump, Moloney then showed his competitive spirit by delivering a lifetime best leap of 7.82 metres, at the third and final attempt.

His best effort in the shot, 13.89m, was only enough to earn him ninth place overall in that discipline but was enough for him to hang on to the bronze medal position with one more event left on the first of the two days of heptathlon competition.

Among a really strong 12-man field, he’s in contention for a medal on 2729 points, 68 adrift of second-placed Swiss Simon Ehammer and 126 behind leader Warner.

The 32-year-old Canadian great will take all the beating on 2855 after producing the fastest 60m (a career best 6.68sec) and best long jump (8.05m) of the morning.

There was other good news for the 15-strong team – the biggest ever sent by Australia to the championships – with both Matthew Ramsden and Linden Hall battling through to finals over the weekend.

West Australian Ramsden made Sunday’s 3000 metres showdown, impressing with a burst at the end of his heat as six battled for the line, eventually coming home third to earn one of the automatic qualifying places in 7min 52.04sec, his quickest run of the season.

Victorian Hall, fresh from her breakthrough 2021 campaign, was fourth in the first of the 1500m heats and had a nervous wait before learning she’d done enough for a place in Saturday’s final as a fast loser with her season’s best 4:06.69.

There was no joy, though for Tom Willems, who was eliminated after finishing fourth in his 400m heat, while 800m man Charlie Hunter found the going too hot, coming home last in his heat.

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