'I'm in awe of them': Young Tasmanian second fastest non-African ever over 3000m
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'I'm in awe of them': Young Tasmanian second fastest non-African ever over 3000m

Australian running star Stewart McSweyn admits he is in awe of the company he now keeps after becoming the second-fastest non-African runner in 3000 metres history.

The 25-year-old, who grew up on the tiny King Island in the middle of Bass Strait, smashed Craig Mottram's 14-year-old Australian record by more than four seconds in a Diamond League race in Rome.

In-form runner Stewart McSweyn.

In-form runner Stewart McSweyn.Credit:Justin McManus

And he thinks he can go even faster than his 17th fastest time in history (7:28.02) for the event, a personal best by 6.77 seconds.

McSweyn led for most of the race after the pacemaker dropped off, but was swamped in the last lap by eventual winner Jacob Kiplimo, who won in 7:26.64, and Jakob Ingebrigtsen (7:27.05), who now holds the mantle as the fastest non-African runner over 3000 metres.

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McSweyn was happy with the race, but said he tightened up with 450m to go and couldn't hold out the fast-finishing pair.

"The big thing is just seeing some of the stats and seeing the all-time list with [Eliud] Kipchoge only 0.4 of a second in front of me now, which is pretty crazy to think you're not far off it," McSweyn told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age from Rome.

Those guys are all-time greats, guys I look up to and you kind of in awe of how good they are

Stewart McSweyn

"Those guys are all-time greats, guys I look up to, and you're kind of in awe of how good they are. It's crazy to see your name on that list.

"I knew it was quick and, probably with a lap to go, I realised how quick. I attacked the race and tried to give myself the best chance of trying to win it. Overall I was happy with the time, but I was happy with how I executed the race as well."

The 3000m record he holds has previously been held by such luminaries of Australian distance running as Mottram, Ron Clarke and John Landy.

Australian Matt Ramsden finished seventh in 7:48.08 with Ryan Gregson 10th in 7:53.65.

McSweyn, who grew up on a cattle farm chasing sheep, had already qualified for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games in three events: the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m.

After his Rome feats, he believes he can go even faster in the build-up to the rescheduled 2021 Games - and even had to battle a faulty bib during his record-breaking run.

"The top pin started coming off and I started clipping it and thought, 'I better leave it on in case they need it for timing'," McSweyn said. "I got to the third lap and the other side started to fall off because there was so much wind going underneath it.

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"I thought, 'stuff this'. So I ripped it off and threw it on the ground.

"I definitely think I could [go faster again]. I kind of tightened up with 450 [metres] to go and having those guys still there with me at the bell threw me a little bit. Crossing the line, you always think you can do better, but it's a six-second PB so I'm happy with that for the moment."

McSweyn ran as part of the pacing team for Kipchoge's historic sub-two hour marathon in Vienna earlier this year.

Australian high jumper Nicola McDermott also continued her great form, finishing third in Rome with a jump of 1.95 metres.

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