Hollingsworth wants five medals
24 August 2011
Five medals and a top ten team finish is the expectation of the Flame team at the IAAF world championships in Daegu (KOR), according to Athletics Australia High Performance Manager and Australian Team Leader Eric Hollingsworth.
Those medal expectations come on the back of the two Australia won at the Summer Universaide in Shenzhen (CHN), which included gold from Lachlan Renshaw in remarkable fashion in the 800m. The Sydney-born athlete came from sixth place in the last 120m to claim the title in 1:46.36.
Sean Wroe won bronze in the 400m, and has brought his recent success with him into Daegu where he has joined 2009 bronze medal-winning teammates Ben Offereins, John Steffensen and Tristan Thomas. Steve Solomon is the newest member of that relay team for the 2011 championships.
Hollingsworth said: “Lachlan did very well, he’s been in good form all year and a win at such a championships is such a great feat, so congratulations to him.
“It was very good for Sean too, considering where he has been for the most part of the season, he has got himself a decent result there, and got himself another medal.
“All the guys are in now and are training well, they’re all fit and healthy so we are certainly going to get into the final and from there we are hopeful. The 4x400m boys are the defending bronze medallists, and there’s a bit of expectation on them.”
Mitchell Watt also won bronze in Berlin, while Steve Hooker and Dani Samuels won gold in the pole vault and discus throw respectively.
Hooker is the reigning world and Olympic champion, but has spent much of 2011 recovering from injury since defending his Commonwealth title in New Delhi (IND). Meanwhile Samuels dominated the domestic season in Australia, winning every competition, and has only failed to finish top three once this year.
Such is the health of Australian athletics at the moment, that as well as two defending champions, the Flameteam is also attracting attention for two prospective medals from Sally Pearson and the aforementioned Watt.
Pearson and Watt, who have both recognised and accepted the expectation they are under, are both undefeated in the Samsung Diamond League. Pearson’s winning streak also stretches across the 2011 Australian season and includes the fastest 100m hurdles time in the world of 12.48, while Watt has the four biggest jumps in the world this year, including an Oceania and Australian record 8.54m leap from Stockholm (SWE).
Hollingsworth continued: “It’s always difficult to defend a title and from our point of view I wouldn’t suggest Steve and Dani are favourites for the gold medal at this stage. Sally and Mitch would be bigger title favourites, but Steve and Dani are champions so we certainly expect them to be up there.
“It’s good to have pressure on Sally and Mitch, and the team as a whole. I would rather that than having them coming in ranked 12th or 15th and maybe not performing, expectation is a good thing.
“We’ve got champions and we’re trying to build a culture where expectation is part of the process, so I’m very happy that they’re favourites.
“The other basic key performance indicator for us is to be inside the top ten as a nation, so we’ve got to get at least another 10 finalists alongside the five medals we’re looking for to get somewhere around 55 to 60 points.
“Dani, Steve, Mitch and Sally are the medal contenders and we certainly have some expectation from the walkers right across the board. We are hopeful for Fabrice (Lapierre) too, he was fourth in 2009 and is obviously really close to the mark.”
In the walks, Nathan Deakes is a former world champion, having won the 50km walk crown in 2007, while Jared Tallent won silver in the same event at the Beijing Olympics as well as bronze in the 20km walk.
Hollingsworth added: “I’m hoping the conditions are hot. The walkers have prepared correctly in their heat chambers. Jared is on the record as saying he prefers the heat, while Nathan seems to be in great shape. Some of his training has been right up there and he hasn’t walked like that for four or five years.
“Personally my dark horses are Jeff Riseley and Benn Harradine. If Jeff is thereabouts in the 1500m I really believe that he has enough in him to challenge, and Benn has the potential to throw around 66m plus which will certainly go close.”