More than ever to battle it out at Australian Junior Athletics Championships

11 March 2014

ATHLETICS: The ever-developing Australian Junior Athletics Championships will reach a very positive new milestone when competition gets underway at Sydney Olympic Park tomorrow, as more than 2000 athletes prepare to compete.
Smashing the previous record of participants set at Perth 2013 last year, entries for the event have increased from just shy of 1500 when the championships commenced in its current format in 2010 to an outstanding 2099 in 2014.
“The Australian Junior Athletics Championships showcase our nation’s best developing talent and we couldn’t be happier to report that the event continues to grow in both size and esteem within the athletics community,” Dallas O’Brien, Athletics Australia Chief Executive, said.
“Importantly the event will this year for the first time double as the national championship for junior athletes with a disability, and we are also proud to be working alongside the Oceania Athletics Association and its member federations to provide a competition opportunity for athletes in our region that are seeking selection to the Youth Olympic Games.”
The Australian Junior Athletics Championships also offer coveted selection to the Australian Spark team bound for the IAAF World Junior Championships later this year.  All under 20 aged events in the coming five-day program double as the Selection Trial, with gold medallists who have a qualifier for Eugene 2014 to be automatically selected to the team.
“The national junior championships are the last opportunity for athletes seeking selection to the IAAF World Junior Championships to stake their claim,” Dion Russell, Athletics Australia Chairman of Selectors, said.
“If you win the under 20 national title with a qualifier, and meet eligibility requirements, you will be automatically selected to the Australian Spark team for Eugene. All other athletes who have qualifiers and meet eligibility requirements at the conclusion of competition, but do not win their event, will be discretionarily considered at the Final Selectors Meeting early next week.
“On behalf of the Athletics Australia Selectors, I wish all athletes, their coaches and families, the best of luck in the push for consideration for selection.”
In the boy’s sprints, Josh Clarke (NSW, 100m) James Kermond (NSW, 200m, 400m), Joshua Robinson (Qld, 200m, 400m), Jesse Usoalii (Tas, 200m), Sam Baird (Vic, 400m) and Sam Reiser (Vic, 400m) are all set to battle it out for selection, with each already boasting at least one qualifier in their preferred event.
Likewise in the men’s 800m and men’s 1500m, a bounty of charges will take to the start line with automatic selection in their sights. Luke Matthews (Vic) is qualified in both events, while Jordan Makins (WA) will start with a qualifier in the boy’s 800m and Zak Patterson (Vic), Charrt Miller (WA) and Jack Stapleton (NSW) compete after previous strong performances in the metric mile.
Rounding out the boy’s to watch on track are IAAF World Cross Country Championships representative Morgan McDonald (NSW) in the boy’s under 20 5000m, IPC Athletics World Championships medallist Deon Kenzie (Tas), fast paced walkers Nathan Brill (Vic, 10,000m walk) and Jesse Osborne (Vic, 10,000m walk) and already qualified hurdlers Matt de Bruin (Vic, 110mH), Andrew Harrison (NSW, 110mH), Ivor Metcalf (NSW, 110mH) and Bryce Collins (NSW, 400mH).
Two-time IAAF World Youth Championships medallist and Athletics Australia Junior Athlete of the Year Matthew Denny (Qld) headlines field action, with the six-time gold medallist from last year’s event competing in the boy’s hammer throw, shot put and discus.
He is joined on the qualifiers list by Mitchell Cooper (Qld) and Ben Fitzgerald-Hall (NSW) in the boy’s under 20 discus, and IAAF World Youth Championships representative Costa Kousparis (NSW) in the hammer throw. Rhys Stein (NSW) is the man to beat in the boy’s under 20 javelin.
Denny’s Donetsk 2013 team mate Henry Smith (Vic) will launch with the also qualified Lachlan Little (NSW) in the boy’s long jump, Athletics Australia Under 19 Talent Squad member Joel Baden (NSW) will soar in the boy’s under 20 high jump and in the boy’s under 20 pole vault it will be a battle between the IAAF World Junior Championships qualified Kurtis Marshall (SA) and Jack Hicking (NSW).
Arguably the most hotly contested girl’s events are middle distance races, with more than ten athletes entered to compete either already qualified or within very close range of the required standard in events from 800m to 5000m.
In the 800m, IAAF World Youth Championships representative Georgia Wassall (NSW), who also has a Commonwealth Games qualifier, will start as favourite, while in the longer 1500m, Anna Laman (NSW) and Jessica Hull (NSW) will race from the front with automatic selection the target.
Athletics Australia Under 17 Development Squad member Hull is also qualified in the girl’s under 20 3000m alongside Kate Spencer (NSW) and Courtney Powell (Vic), with Spencer also boasting an IAAF World Junior Championships and Commonwealth Games B-Qualifier in the 5000m. In the girl’s under 20 3000m steeplechase, Amy McCormick (WA) and Stella Radford (Vic) will be tough to beat.
In the shorter sprint events, Katrina Hunt (NSW) and Sam Geddes (NSW) start in the girl’s 100m and 200m events with qualifiers next to their name, while in the girl’s under 20 400m the Australian All-Schools champion Molly Blakey (NSW) will compete for automatic selection. Hunt will also be competitive in the girl’s under 20 100m hurdles, with Elizabeth Clay (NSW) and Madison Gipson (NSW) to launch alongside her.
Soaring to a personal best of 1.96m in the girl’s high jump at the Australian All-Schools Championships, Eleanor Patterson (Vic), who won gold at the IAAF World Youth Championships and has declared that she will push for Commonwealth Games selection this year, is a star on the rise worth watching in the field.
She will be joined in the battle for the national under 20 high jump title by no less than four other athletes with qualifiers for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Nicola McDermott (NSW), Hannah Joye (Qld), Alysha Burnett (NSW) and Cassie Purdon (Qld).
Patterson’s Donetsk 2013 team mates Emma Phillippe (WA) and Nina Kennedy (WA) will take to the runway in the girl’s under pole vault alongside Maddie Lawson (Vic), while in the horizontal jumps it will be a battle between Audrey Kyriacou (NSW, long jump), Naa Anang (Qld, long jump), Burnett (long jump) and Aliyah Johnson (Qld, triple jump) for gold.
Taking to the thrower’s cage will be the IAAF World Junior Championships qualified Kirsty Williams (Qld, discus throw), Filoi Aokuso (NSW, discus throw), Tai Denicaucau (NSW, discus throw) and Alex Hulley (NSW, hammer throw), while IAAF World Youth Champion Mackenzie Little (NSW), who is not seeking selection to the Australian Spark, will start in the girl’s under 20 javelin.
The Australian Junior Athletics Championships commence at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre tomorrow, and continue until Sunday 16 March.
For more information, including entry lists and the event timetable, please click here to visit the National Athletics Series home page on the Athletics Australia website.