IMAGE|| Michael Willson
The Athletics start gun will fire at Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in just over a week – our 109-strong Australian Team were on show today for the media call in Nudgee, Brisbane.
Team co-captain and reigning 100m hurdles World Champion Sally Pearson (Qld), who is battling to overcome a foot injury, said she was looking forward to leading the talented group of athletes, the second largest Australian athletics team ever compete at a Commonwealth Games.
“I’m trying to be there for everyone and lead by example by what I do on the track and also how I conduct myself off the track. That’s what I like to do as a captain.” said Pearson.
The Queenslander is one of several Australians who enter the Games as favourites along with a host of medal hopefuls.
“There are a lot of great athletes coming through. Kurtis and Nina our pole vaulters and we have Dani Stevens in the discus and Kathryn Mitchell in the javelin”.
“And there’s an amazing group of other athletes in the team and I think we are going to pick up more medals than we have had in a long time.”
Pearson’s co-captain and three-time Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley (NSW) will be competing on the track (1500m) and the road (marathon). The gruelling 42.195km event will be the first time the wheelchair (T-54) marathon will be held at a Commonwealth Games.
Fearnley is one of 19 para athletes which is our largest and strongest contingent of para athletes ever.
In that crew at 15 years and 166 days is Sam Walker (Tas) competing in the T38 100m who will become the youngest ever athlete to don the green and gold at a Commonwealth Games.
Two-other 15 year-olds will join Walker at the Rhiannon Clarke (WA) T38 100m and Kailyn Joseph (NSW) T38 long jump.
Four Australians will be defending their Glasgow titles on the Gold Coast with team co-captain Sally Pearson (100H) leading the charge with Angela Ballard (T54 1500m), Dani Stevens (discus) and Michael Shelley (marathon) all hoping for back-to-back victories.
The team includes 64 debutants and a relatively young average age of just under 25 years.
At the other end of the spectrum Lisa Weightman, aged 39 years 89 days, will become the oldest Australian woman to compete in athletics at the Commonwealth Games when she lines up in the marathon on the day of the Games. It will be ten years and two days since she ran her first marathon. She surpasses the late Kerryn McCann who was 38 years and 321 days when won gold in the marathon in Melbourne in 2006.
Gold medallist from Delhi in 2010, Fabrice Lapierre (NSW – long jump) joins Benn Harradine (Qld – discus), Kathryn Mitchell (Vic – javelin), Sally Pearson (Qld – 100m hurdles, 4x 100m relay) and Lauren Wells (ACT, 400m hurdles, 4x400m relay and long jump), in a record-equalling fourth Commonwealth Games.
Pearson’s said a home Games was a great opportunity to showcase the sport and the athletes to existing and new fas alike.
“I really want people to understand what our sport is about and this is a great chance to show off us some of our athletes and all the personalities we have and put our sport on the map again.”
“People are going to be yelling out your name so just embrace it and take all that energy in.”