Men 10,000m Final 9.10pm Friday
A 25-lap journey, the three Australian men selected to take on the Commonwealth were decided on a calm December night in Melbourne, with the Zatopek:10 race doubling as a selection trial.
A tactical affair until the final two kilometres, pre-race favourite Patrick Tiernan (QLD) did his utmost to shake Stewart McSweyn (TAS) over a torrid final mile.
Tiernan could do little to separate himself from the plucky King Islander, as McSweyn tore away in the final 100 metres to take his first national 10,000m title, as David McNeill (VIC) was 9 seconds adrift in third.
With that win, McSweyn was one of the first Australian athletes to confirm his place in the team and enters his first major championship 10,000m race with encouraging momentum.
Whilst McSweyn’s personal best for the distance sits at an unassuming 28:29.65, quicker comparative times over the shorter distances would suggest the Tasmanian has room for substantial improvement.
Watch for the 22-year old to remain with the lead pack in the latter stages of the race, as a home Commonwealth Games with a class international field sets the stage for something special.
The third-fastest Australian over the 10,000m distance, Philadelphia-based Patrick Tiernan suffered an unexpected loss at the December selection trial, followed by a near miss in the 5,000m selection trial.
A frustrating domestic season may set the humble Queenslander up for a triumphant return in his home state, as experiences at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships (13th), and bouncing back from 29th in the 10,000m event to 11th in the 5000m event at London 2017 World Championships indicate the class of the highly touted 23-year old.
Selected for both the 5000m and 10,000m events, a two-time national champion at 10,000m, David McNeill will look to draw upon his 2015 & 2016 10,000m form, both seasons in which McNeill registered sub-28 minute 10,000m times.
With a 16th place in the 10,000m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, McNeill will draw upon substantial major championship experience to navigate a field containing multiple Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship medallists.
Potential international challengers include sub-27 minute athletes Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda, 26:49.94), Josphat Bett Kipkoech (Kenya, 26:48.99), dual Olympic finalist Mohammed Ahmed (Canada), Glasgow 2014 steeplechase gold medallist Jonathan Ndiku (Kenya), World Under 20 champion Rodgers Kwemoi (Kenya), and New Zealand Jake Robertson who recently broke Rod Dixon's 34-year-old national record in the marathon. Twin brother Zane has pulled out of the team with a groin injury.
Women 5000m Final 3.20 pm Saturday
Australians will have the opportunity to get to know a trio of distance stars set to grace the 5000m and 10,000m events, with Celia Sullohern (NSW), Madeline Hills (NSW) and Eloise Wellings (NSW) securing selection in both distance events.
Sullohern, a talented junior athlete, had spent numerous years out of the sport focusing on study, allowing time to deal with persistent injuries whilst enjoying success in triathlon,
The 25-year old last represented Australia in 2011, finishing 21st in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain.
The 2017/18 season represented a stunning return to competition as Sullohern was victorious in both the 5000m and 10000m trial, displaying a tenacious driving finish over the final 400 metres in each of the distances.
A season which has at times shocked even Sullohern herself saw her rocket to tenth on the Australian all-time list after a 2:29:27 marathon performance in Melbourne.
The Penrith-born athlete’s 15:34.42 5000m personal best is set to tumble against international competition.
Madeline Hills shares similarities with Sullohern, taking eight seasons out of the sport prior to the 2014 Glasgow Games.
The career pharmacist had trained seriously for six months prior to finishing fourth in the 3000m steeplechase in Glasgow.
Following 2014, Hills took to international competition with a vengeance, with heat appearances at the 2015 Beijing World Championships in the 5000m and 3000m steeplechase events, Hills recorded two top-ten finishes at the 2016 Rio Olympics (5000m & 3000m Steeplechase).
Hill backed up her international success with appearances in the 5000m and 10000m events at the 2017 London World Championships. she will enter the 5000m event with a personal best of 15:04.05, which ranks her fourth on the Australia all-time list.
Eloise Wellings has asserted herself since 2006 as one of Australia’s most reliable distance runners, with three Commonwealth Games appearances (2006, 2010, 2014), two Olympic appearances (2016, 2012) and two World Championship performances (2015 & 2017).
A senior career highlighted by four top-six finishes at the Commonwealth Games and two top-ten finishes on the Olympic stage, the 19-time Australian representative ranks second all-time for 5000m, with a staggering personal best of 14:54.11.
Welling’s preparation for the Gold Coast has been conservative, racing at national championship events and pacing the Osaka International Ladies Marathon successfully.
Potential medal threats include reigning World Champion, Hellen Obiri (Kenya), ranked fifth all-time for the distance with a personal best of 14:18.37. Obiri also holds the Games Record for 1500m (4:04.43).
England will be throwing support behind Laura Weightman, as the 2014 Glasgow silver medallist in the 1500m moves up to 5000m and has a personal best of 15:08.24
Women Marathon – 7.20am Sunday
Australia’s women’s marathon team pose a substantial competitive threat, as the experienced pairing of Jessica Trengove (SA) and Lisa Weightman (VIC) both enter with Commonwealth, Olympic and World Championships experience and are ranked sixth and third respectively on the Australia all-time marathon list.
Relative newcomer Virginia Moloney (VIC) has improved steadily during the last three seasons, finding herself on the Commonwealth Games team after a commanding performance on the Gold Coast in 2017 catapulted the school teacher to ninth on the Australia all-time list.
Jessica Trengove returns to the Commonwealth arena after a third-place finish in Glasgow in 2014 and ninth place at the 2017 London World Championships which doubled as a personal best of 2:27:01. Trengove will have medals on her mind, following recent personal bests over the half marathon (1:10:59 in Marugame) and 5000m (15:54.81) distances, showcasing commendable depth.
Australia’s World Marathon Majors veteran, Weightman, balances full-time work for IBM with world-class marathon racing.
Weightman’s 2017 featured a fifth-place finish at the prestigious London Marathon (2:25:15), followed by a sixth-place finish at the Chicago Marathon (2:28:45). Both races are a part of the Abbott’s World Marathon Majors, a series of six international marathons considered the most challenging on the world stage, where Weightman ranks 20th in the current 2017-18 championship series.
A chance meeting with her now coach Liam Delany, who was also supervising a local physical education class at the time, first inspired 27-year old Virginia Moloney.
Previously representing Australia at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships, finishing 79th, Moloney’s career highlights include a Melbourne Marathon win in 2016, and a fifth-place finish in the 2017 Gold Coast Marathon, running 2:29:14.
The 2016 Australian Cross Country Champion grew up in Garvoc, a small town home to 235 individuals, located two and a half hours south-west of Melbourne.
Expect strong competition from Namibia’s Helalia Johannes, returning after a fifth-place finish in Glasgow, a 2:26:09 performer, Johannes’ seasons best of 2:29:25 ranks her ninth. Shelia Jerotich (Kenya) set a course record in winning the Košice Marathon in Slovakia (2:27:34, October 2017). Alyson Dixon (England) is ranked sixth with a personal best of 2:29:06.Sean Whipp for Athletics Australia
Men Marathon – 8.15am Sunday
The men’s marathon is an event where Australia has found regular success with previous champions including Rob De Castella (1982 & 1986), 2014 and 2018 Chef de Mission Steve Moneghetti (1994) and Michael Shelley (2014) atop a list of multiple medallists over the distance.
At these Games Michael Shelley (QLD) and Liam Adams (VIC) bring significant experience to the race, both proving themselves in World Major Marathons to gain Commonwealth Games selection.
Shelley raced at a consistently high level throughout 2017, finishing tenth in both London and Chicago, recording times of 2:11:38 and 2:12:52 respectively. The 34-year old Queenslander has shown superb form in championship marathon’s, as races without pacemakers or ‘rabbits’ running in front of the main pack tend to rely more on the cunning tactical skills of the athlete.
Shelley put his tactical prowess on display in Delhi at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, braving the heat and humidity for a silver medal. He returned even better in Glasgow 2014 to successfully navigate the cobblestone streets, claiming gold and setting a personal best of 2:11:38 in the process.
With little recent racing, Shelley finished sixth at the Doha Half Marathon in January against a quality field, running 63:20 in difficult conditions. A home Games provides an opportunity for the reigning champion to attempt to secure back to back victories, an Australian feat last managed by Rob De Castella in 1982 and 1986.
Liam Adams has combined the rigours of full-time work as an electrician with world-class performances in his spare time, the 31-year old Essendon resident is well known for clocking in excess of 180 kilometres a week running once a day after work, a tremendous feat in itself.
Adams secured a place on the Games team following a personal best performance in the Berlin Marathon, one of the fastest marathons in the world. Adams patiently worked through rainy conditions to run 2:12:52 and finish ninth amongst a truly world-class field.
Adams will look to improve upon a seventh-place finish at the 2014 Glasgow Games, having prepared for the Gold Coast race with a series of successful road races in Melbourne and Hobart.
An event with immense depth in the Commonwealth, athletes set to challenge Shelley and Adams include 44-year old 2015 Gold Coast Marathon winner Kenneth Mungara, touting a personal best of 2:07:36.
Scotland’s major championship marathon success has stemmed largely from Callum Hawkins, finishing ninth at the 2016 Olympic Games and fourth at the 2017 World Championships in a personal best of 2:10:17.
Be sure to watch for Solomon Mutai of Uganda, a 2:09:59 athlete with three top-eight finishes at the Olympic Games (2016), World Championships (2015), and Commonwealth Games (2014).
New Zealander Zane Robertson’s attempt at an audacious double was curtailed by injury and he won’t take part.