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Biggest marathon team ever to join strong walks contingent in Moscow

21 May 2013

ATHLETICS: More Australians than ever will battle it out in the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow (RUS) after Athletics Australia today confirmed the selection of an additional six charges to compete in one of the toughest events in sport.
Set to join the three automatically selected athletes from the Marathon Trial held as part of the Melbourne Marathon last October, the team of nine will be joined by a very strong race walking team of eight.
“On behalf of the Athletics Australia Selectors, I congratulate the 11 athletes that we have added to the Australian Flame team today,” Dion Russell, Athletics Australia Chairman of Selectors, said.
“In accordance with the Selection Policy, these athletes have been added to marathon and race walking events at the conclusion of the qualification period on 12 May and they will join those either pre-selected after the London Olympic Games or automatically selected after the Marathon Trial and the men’s 50km walk trial.”
Following the confirmed withdrawal of pre-selected athletes Lisa Weightman (Vic) and Michael Shelley (Qld), the marathon team stands at five women and four men.
Marathon Trial gold and silver medallists Jane Fardell (NSW) and Lauren Shelley (WA) will lead the women’s squad, with the duo to be joined by London Olympians Jess Trengove (SA) and Benita Willis (Qld), as well as Australian Flame debutant Nikki Chapple (Vic).
Competing in the men’s event are Marathon Trial winner Scott Westcott (NSW) and London Olympians Jeff Hunt (NSW) and Martin Dent (ACT). Shawn Forrest (Vic), who will compete for Australia for the first time since the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships, is also set to start.
“It was decided last year that for the 2013 IAAF World Championships we would select full teams to compete the marathon if there was an appropriate number of eligible athletes,” Russell added.
“With this in mind, the Selectors have confirmed the selection of all those that have qualified and nominated for selection. The result is more athletes than ever on the start line and that’s outstanding.”
Australia’s walks team at the IAAF World Championships has always been strong delivering a world champion in Nathan Deakes (Vic), medal winning performances from Kerry Saxby-Junna (NSW) and Jared Tallent (Vic) and a further 10 top-eight finishers, and 2013 is no different.
To be led by Olympic silver medallist Tallent, who was pre-selected after his performance in London last August, the men’s 50km walk start list will also include Selection Trial winner Luke Adams (NSW) and five-time IAAF World Race Walking Cup representative Chris Erickson (Vic), while the men’s 20km walk features a duo of debutantes in Dane Bird-Smith (Qld) and Rhydian Cowley (Vic). 
Competing in the women’s 20km event are Tanya Holliday (SA), who resoundingly won the Selection Trial in an A-Qualifying time, London Olympian Regan Lamble (Vic) and 2009 IAAF World Championships representative Jess Rothwell (Vic).
“The program in Moscow prevents competing in both the men’s 20km and 50km event and, despite qualifying for both, Jared, Luke and Chris opted to compete in the longer of the two,” Russell said.
“Highlighting the strength of race walking in this country, six women had achieved the IAAF World Championships A-Qualifier for the 20km walk. Tanya was automatically selected after her victory in the Trial, whilst all remaining selections were at the discretion of the Selectors. Regan produced three A-Qualifiers in the period, including during the London Olympic Games last year and has shown she can produce a Top 16 result at international level. Jess has a strong history of international competition, that includes a Top 10 result from her last World Walk Cup appearance, as well as a very strong A-Qualifier bettered only by Tanya and Regan from Italy earlier this month on return from serious injury.”
The IAAF World Championships team now stands at 35 athletes, with the Final Selectors Meeting to determine all remaining discretionary selections after the close of the IAAF Qualification Period on 29 July 2013.
The 2013 IAAF World Championships, the 14th instalment of the event, will be held in Moscow on 10-18 August 2013.
The Australian Flame at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu (KOR) was 46-strong and placed 8th on the medal table with one gold (Sally Pearson, 100mH), one silver (Mitchell Watt, long jump) and one bronze (Tallent, 50km race walk).

Athletics Australia

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