Two distance athletes of 2018, Sinead Diver (VIC) and Stewart McSweyn (TAS) head the start lists for the national 5000m at this Saturday night’s Sydney Track Classic. They are just two events which see one of the best line-ups of Australian talent in recent years at the Sydney Track Classic.
Diver and McSweyn, winners at Zatopek in December, will be looking to claim the 5000m/10,000m national championship doubles. At Zatopek, McSweyn won the national 10,000m title by 22 seconds and he starts a warm favourite to claim the double, last achieved by his training partner Brett Robinson in 2014/15. For Diver is will be duplicating the double from Celia Sullohern last season.
At Zatopek in December they both just missed the 10,000m world championships standard, Diver by less than one second, but in Sydney on Saturday night they should claim 5000m qualifiers – 13:22.50 (men) and 15:22.00 (women). For McSweyn it will be his second after achieving the 1500m standard at the Birmingham Indoor Meet on Saturday night. A week after Zatopek Diver came within two seconds of the 5000m standard. Diver will have quality competition from Melissa Duncan (VIC), who was the first Aussie at the World XC trial in January. The former 1500m athlete is making a significant impact over 5000m and already possess a PB of 15:18.43.
Both 5000m fields are strong, stacked with senior and junior members of the World Cross Country team. In the men’s race the progress of four athletes will be of interest. Harry Summers (VIC) is in red-hot form following a close third in the World XC trial, a 3000m PB of 7:51.63 and dipping under the 10km race record last Sunday to place second to Brett Robinson. How will Joel Tobin-White (VIC) progress on the track after his outstanding half-marathon time of 62:03 in Japan? Graduating to the 5000m Jordan Gusman (NSW) should take down his PB of 13:35.76 as he chases a podium. Finally, hoping for a return to form will be Rio Olympian Sam McEntee (VIC) a 13:17 athlete.
The growing depth in women’s 400m sprinting, following the success of the 4x400m team in recent years, is evident by the strong line-up here.
Rio Olympic semi-finalists Annelise Rubie-Renshaw (NSW) is the narrow favourite ahead of a host of outstanding quarter-milers, including Morgan Mitchell (VIC), currently successfully experimenting with the 800m and Commonwealth Games representative teenager Bendere Oboya (NSW). Another teenager Ella Connolly (QLD) is easing into the season and could surprise. Rio Olympic relay finalist Caitlin Jones (QLD) is in shape following regularly competing which included a win over Connolly last Saturday.
Others to watch are domestic season leader Bella O’Grady (NSW), Canberra Track Classic winner Angie Blackburn (ACT) and Australian All Schools champion Ellie Beer (QLD).
The current depth in Australian sprinting is impressive and many will be on display here. It certainly looks a match race between Jack Hale (TAS) and Trae Williams (QLD). Jack has a one-nil record this summer over Trae, but watch for Trae to improve following a series of races in Canberra two weeks ago. Jack’s PB of 10.21, now three-year-old, is ready for revision. He ran his second fastest all-conditions time of 10.12 windy, last Saturday in Perth. Two teenagers will be pushing the established senior stars. National under-20 record holder Jake Doran (QLD), 18, with a PB of 10.15 and Canberra-based Kiwi Eddie Nketia (NZL/ACT), who at just 17, has been in scintillating form clocking a 100m best of 10.30.
There are many more who on their day could finish in the top-three: NSW champion Anas Abu-Ganaba PB 10.28, Japan’s Tomoya Baba PB 10.31, 2018 Stawell Gift champion Jacob Despard (TAS) PB 10.43, making a breakthrough in Canberra Zach Holdsworth (NSW) PB 10.40 and Jordan Shelley (ACT) PB 10.47.
This will be a fantastic race with Ryan Gregson (VIC) favourite, just ahead of training partners Matt Ramsden (WA) and Jordy Williamsz (VIC). Gregson and Williamsz have been racing indoors in European and are in good form, particularly Gregson with an outstanding 3:37.52 indoors last Saturday.
Williamsz is a definite threat enjoying his best-ever two years in the sport. He was the leading Australian over 1500m at the 2017 World Championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games and over the last two weeks in Europe has clocked four PBs over 800m, 1500m and 3000m. Ramsden has a win over Gregson in December and has been in good form in 2019, a fifth in the World XC trial and a massive 3000m PB of 7:52.
But for Sydney-sider Gregson, although now more often around Melbourne, he was originally from Wollongong and we have watched his career develop through the Sydney Track Classic, since he set the current Australian under-20 record at the 2009 meet, he has lost only one of his four races, in 2013 to New Zealand’s Olympic medallists Nick Willis. Gregson last raced in 2016.
Others to watch are: Paralympian Jaryd Clifford (VIC), Newcastle’s 17-year-old Luke Young (NSW), James Hansen (TAS) PB 3:38.90, Isaac Hockey (VIC) PB 3:38.49 and Rorey Hunter (ACT) PB 3:39.28.
Women’s 400m hurdles
One of the highest standard events on the program, with four-time Commonwealth Games representative Lauren Wells (ACT) and Wollongong returning star, Sarah Carli (NSW), chasing more world championships qualifiers. Wells has clocked two from two in her last starts including her fastest time for nearly three years. Carli defeated Wells in a shock performance at the Canberra Track Classic, achieving a world championship standard and booking her ticket for Doha.
Women’s high jump
Commonwealth Games medallist Nicola McDermott (NSW) heads a strong field where we could see our second world championships qualifier. McDermott was the star of the ACT Championships where she cleared 1.94m, to become the sixth best in Australian history and secure a world championships qualifier. In pursuit is Commonwealth Games heptathlete Alysha Burnett who cleared 1.91m in a heptathlon last month and two weeks ago made some close attempts at 1.94m.
Women’s Long Jump
World ranked number five, Brooke Stratton (VIC) is receiving good domestic competition from Commonwealth Games team mate Naa Anang. At the ACT Championships, on every round Naa was just a few centimetres behind Brooke as both kept improving. We are looking for them to push each other again, both over the world championships qualifying standard of 6.72m
Women’s Pole Vault
The events features New Zealand’s Olympic medallist Eliza McCartney, who at just 22 is the third best pole vaulter in history.
With an extraordinary PB of 4.94m, she arrives in form vaulting 4.85m just three weeks ago. In that competition she took three attempts at 5.00m – a height just two athletes have achieved in history. Certainly, under threat is the Sydney Track Classic meet record of 4.60m initially set by Emma George in 1999, which was then a world record. It was later matched by Alana Boyd. Boyd’s Australian all-comers record of 4.81m also looks in danger.
Women’s 100m Hurdles
Two Commonwealth Games finalists, Michelle Jenneke (NSW) and Brianna Beahan (WA) are the focus in this event. On the Gold Coast just 0.04 second separated them as they placed fourth and fifth respectively.
The form of our women half-milers this domestic season have been unpredictable, due to late 2018 international events (YOG) and some injuries. Certainly, in the mix will be Commonwealth Games 1500m finalists Georgia Griffith (VIC), Youth Olympic Games champion Keely Small (ACT), World U20 Championships silver medallists Carley Thomas (NSW) and ACT Champs winner Catriona Bissett (VIC). There are two visitors from New Zealand who will be in the competitive. Sub two-minute athlete Angie Petty has been in 2:04 form this year, while the biggest threat is likely to be Katherine Camp who ran a PB of 2:02.63 in January, a week before she won the Canberra Track Classic.
Others to watch will be Perth-based pole vault pair Declan Carruthers and Angus Armstrong, and Commonwealth Games medallists in the throws Alex Hulley (hammer throw) and Hamish Peacock (javelin)
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia