Aussie female marathoners to the fore


John Salvado / AAP News

Fresh from providing all three of Australia’ medals at the recent world championships in Oregon, it will likely again fall to the women to get the athletics campaign off to a flying start to the Commonwealth Games.

The four marathons take place on Saturday, finishing at Victoria Square in central Birmingham.

The fastest runner in the able-bodied women’s field is 2018 Commonwealth champion Helalia Johannes from Namibia, who also won bronze at the 2019 world championships in Doha.

As always, the Kenyans will be strong, with their challenge likely to be led by Maurine Chepkemoi.

But Australia has assembled a three-pronged attack of super-mums, including Eloise Wellings, who has stepped up in distance to the marathon after the birth of her second child.

“To be selected for these Games is exciting, especially after missing Tokyo last year,” said the 41-year-old Wellings after she was picked in her fifth Commonwealth team.

“I’m excited to be back at my best.

“As a female athlete, you’re never really sure if you’re going to be back at your best after having a baby.

“It’s been a long hard road and I’m really stoked with the outcome to be here and be selected.

“There’s a certain romance to the marathon; it’s an unfolding story within an actual event.”

Jessia Stenson (nee Trengove) will be looking to finish on the podium at a third straight Games, having pocketed bronze medals in 2014 and 2018.

The third member of the crack Australian squad is 45-year-old Sinead Diver, who finished a creditable 10th at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Paralympic champion and world No.1 Madison de Rozario is an unbackable favourite in the women’s T53/54 race which has only attracted four starters, also including fellow Australian Christie Dawes.

As was the case with the women, Australia’s best-credentialled able-bodied men’s marathoners chose to prioritise the Commonwealth Games over the world titles in Oregon, which boasted much deeper fields.

With Jack Rayner deciding to focus on the 5000m, Australia will be represented by the consistent Liam Adams and Andrew Buchanan.

Adams set his PB of 2:10:48 two years ago in Lake Biwa, Japan, but there are six sub-2:10 runners in the field headed by Kenyans Jonathan Korir and Philemon Lokedi and Tanzanian Alphonce Simbo.

Jake Lappin is an outside medal chance in the men’s T53/54 race where the favourite is Josh Cassidy, one of Canada’s two flag bearers at the opening ceremony in Birmingham.

The main track and field program begins on Tuesday.



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