London calling for 20 Aussie athletes
3 April 2017
ATHLETICS: London is calling for twenty of Australia’s best athletes after initial selections for the 2017 IAAF World Championships were confirmed as the 2017 Australian Athletics Championship drew to a close in Sydney on Sunday.
Featuring Sally Pearson (Qld), who will compete on the same track she won Olympic gold in 2012, and Rio 2016 medallists Jared Tallent (SA) and Dane Bird-Smith (Qld), the green and gold squad is on track to rival the size of Moscow 2013 and Beijing 2015, with Chairman of Selectors, Dion Russell, impressed by how the team is taking shape.
“For the IAAF World Championships, our approach is to send the strongest and largest team possible. This is the first year of the Olympic cycle and we want to provide all athletes with continued opportunities to compete as we begin to prepare for Tokyo 2020,” Russell said.
“All eligible and qualified athletes for in-stadium events have been selected at the close of the Australian Athletics Championships, including Patrick Tiernan who now is available for selection as a consequence of his performance at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships last weekend.
“We’ve also now announced six walkers in total, with Jared Tallent and Chris Erickson added to the 50km event after we confirmed Dane Bird-Smith, among others, post the 20km walk Selection Trial last month.
“The team is in a good position. We have 20 athletes selected now, a good healthy number, and three more than the same time in 2013, the year after the London Olympics. We’re expecting the team to grow significantly before the close of the qualification period in July.”
For Sally Pearson, her qualification performance in Sydney marked a triumphant return to the Australian Athletics Championships.
Pearson was reduced to tears of elation after a stunning performance to win her eighth national crown in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Taking to the track for the first round and blitzing the field to clock an IAAF World Championships qualification standard of 12.75 (w: +1.6), the London 2012 Olympic champion was unmatched in the final where she crossed the line in wind-assisted 12.53 (w: +2.3) to claim gold from Brianna Beahan (WA, second, 12.96) and Michelle Jenneke (NSW, third, 13.12).
Pearson’s time in the heat was her best run since the Doha Diamond League in the days before her season ending wrist injury in 2015, with her final result her fastest performance since winning silver at the Moscow 2013 IAAF World Championships.
“I’ve been nervous about this for two weeks. I don’t know why I put so much pressure on myself, and I know that (the final) time was illegal but I am safe with the heat time. I’ve got the qualifier and I’m through,” Pearson said.
“I was not expecting that time. I know it’s illegal but to be able to move my legs that quickly, you still have to move that quickly, and to know that I can do that is so good. The one thing I am lacking in training is my speed endurance, I haven’t been able to do that, and to pull it off today is so special. It’s very exciting.
“I’m confident in my body now, I can challenge it. I can get the work that I need done. I haven’t had that confidence, I thought my body would break down. I think I am past that now.”
Australian athletes who have secured IAAF World Championship qualifying performances:
200m: Ella Nelson (NSW)
400m: Morgan Mitchell (Vic)
10,000m: Eloise Wellings (NSW), Patrick Tiernan (Qld)
100m hurdles: Sally Pearson (Qld)
400m hurdles: Lauren Wells (ACT)
Long Jump: Fabrice Lapierre (NSW)
Pole Vault: Nina Kennedy (WA), Kurtis Marschall (SA)
Shot Put: Damien Birkinhead (Vic)
Discus Throw: Dani Stevens (NSW, nee Samuels)
Javelin: Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT), Hamish Peacock (Tas)
Decathlon: Cedric Dubler (Qld)
20km walk: Regan Lamble (Vic), Beki Smith (NSW), Dane Bird-Smith (Qld), Rhydian Cowley (Vic)
50km walk: Chris Erickson (Vic), Jared Tallent (SA)
The Final Selectors Meeting for the IAAF World Championships will be held on 24 July 2017.
All results from the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships can be viewed HERE.