Ella helps Aussies book place in Paris

Published 3:00pm 8 May 2024

Ella helps Aussies book place in Paris
Words by Nick Crockford

Pictured: From left - Bree Masters, Ella Connolly, Ebony Lane and Torrie Lewis after clinching a place at the Olympics. Sonya Maleter/Athletics Australia

Ella Connolly, who grew up, went to school and started her athletics career in Moreton Bay, has helped Australia break a 24-year Olympic drought.

The 23-year-old from Burpengary, was in the Australian 4x100m women’s relay squad which qualified for the Paris Olympic Games, on Saturday.

It’s the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games that Australia will have a women’s sprint team at the world’s greatest sporting event.

Connolly, who began at Deception Bay Little Athletics, ran the third leg of a crucial heats at the World Athletics Relay Championships in the Bahamas.

The top two from each automatically qualified for the Olympic Games from July 26-August 11.

See video below - Australia in second heat (1min 55 secs) , Ella Connolly running second bend in lane 5.

Lead Ella Masters and second leg Ebony Lane put the Aussies in a good position at halfway before Connolly scorched round the bend.

Torrie Lewis took the baton in third, inched ahead of Spain and was level with global medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith from Ivory Coast in a photo finish.

After a nervous wait and despite both clocking 42.83 seconds (an Australian record), officials gave second place to the green and gold, behind Germany.

“I think we all had a lot of trust in each other, so we said, you know what, let’s just relax,” said Connolly, who moved to Sydney last year train with coach Andrew Murphy.

Ella helps Aussies book place in Paris
An emotional moment for the Aussies when receiving their 'qualified' banner. Sonya Maleter/Athletics Australia

“We’ve done the work and we’ve done this a million times. Let’s just go do this and qualify for the Olympics together.”

A delighted Torrie Lewis said: “I saw three people leave at the same time, and I was like ‘oh my god, we have to run!’ and then I saw Ta Lou-Smith go past, and then we were fine, and now we’re going to the Olympics!”

Bree Masters said she was “speechless!” “I had full faith we could do it, but we actually did it and it’s just wild. To have that automatic Olympic qualification is so, so exciting.”

The Australian quartet qualified fifth for Sunday’s final and that was their finishing position in 43.02 seconds behind (in order) the US, France, Britain and Germany.

Ella helps Aussies book place in Paris
Job done - Torrie Lewis, Ella Connolly and Bree Masters taking a break at the Bahamas championships. Sonya Maleter/Athletics Australia

Final selections for Paris are at the end of June, after the qualification period, but Connolly is a big chance, especially after helping the sprint relay team to a national record earlier this year.

That was one of few outings for the former St Columban’s College, Caboolture student who has been troubled by injury in recent months.

However, the Olympics will not be her first major games. Connolly runs 100, 200m and 400m as well as the 100m and 400m relays.

She was at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham finishing sixth in the 200m and helping Australia to fourth in the women’s 4x100m relay.

Connolly has also been ranked one in the world for the under 18 400m – as well and two and six in Australia for the women’s 400m and 200m respectively.

Below - see Aussies in World Relay Championship Final

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