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Big stride forward for Aust sprinter
John Salvado
17:32 AEST Sun Apr 7 2013

A last-minute call-up at the end of a rollercoaster week has Australian sprinter Mitchell Williams-Swain right in contention for a shock 4x100m relay berth at this year's world athletics championships in Moscow.

Back on Easter Monday, Williams-Swain was ruing a golden opportunity lost to become just the fourth man to claim a second Stawell Gift title.

The 2011 Gift winner was penalised one metre for a false start in the final, before storming home from the back-mark to finish just a few centimetres behind eventual winner Andrew Robinson.

The Queenslander was listed to run the 200m at Saturday's Melbourne World Challenge meet at Lakeside Stadium, but a late vacancy also opened up in the 100m when Andrew McCabe pulled out.

In a race expected to be dominated by American Wallace Spearmon, it was Williams-Swain who looked the likely winner in the closing stages, only to be pipped by six-time national champion Josh Ross by one thousandth of a second.

Both men were timed at 10.25 seconds - a big personal best for Williams-Swain.

Australia are guaranteed a start in the men's sprint relay at the world titles in Moscow by virtue of their seventh-placed finish at last year's London Olympics.

And William-Swain - who cut his teeth on the pro running circuit - is now right in the frame to qualify for his first national team.

The top three finishers in the 100m final at next weekend's trials in Sydney are guaranteed a berth on the world championships 4x100m relay squad.

"I wasn't even meant to be in the 100 here in Melbourne so it's good to come out and run that time," said Williams-Swain, whose 2012 season was ruined by a serious hamstring injury he suffered while lunging for the line in the 2011 Stawell Gift final.

"It was close and I thought I might have got there but Ross came over the top.

"I think I can step up a little bit more.

"It's been a tough week of training so next week I'll taper off again and hopefully I can post something good at the nationals.

"I can't wait to give it another go in Sydney."

Another Australian, Anthony Alozie was third in 10.28, while Spearmon trailed in fourth in 10.29, having won the 200m earlier in the night.

Ross was pleased with the victory and confident a better start will get him under the A qualifying standard of 10.15 and a spot in the individual 100m in Moscow.

The B standard is 10.21.

"I've still got a bit to work on with my start," said Ross, himself a dual Stawell Gift winner.

"I'm still lagging behind and once I get that, there's the A qualifier. It's all in the first 30 metres."

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