Fab five athletes set for Tokyo


Gold Coast Commonwealth Games walks gold medallists Jemima Montag and Dane Bird-Smith headline the first five track and field athletes selected to the Australian Olympic Team for the Tokyo Olympics.

The gold medal duo join javelin world champion and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Kelsey-Lee Barber, who captured the global crown in Doha last year on her final throw of a dramatic competition. Barber won the bronze medal in Glasgow in 2014 and silver on the Gold Coast in 2018, demonstrating the importance of the progression pathway the Commonwealth Games provides.

The trio will be joined by Gold Coast team member Stewart McSweyn, who hails from King Island in Tasmania and has been selected in both the 5000m and 10000m, after winning the selection trial in both events over the domestic season.

The final member of the initial group of five athletes announced for the athletics section is rising middle-distance star Jessica Hull who has been named in the 5000m. Hull set a new national record for the event last week in Monaco and will also have an eye on a spot in the 1500m. Such has been her meteoric rise, Hull didn’t compete on the Gold Coast, but made her senior debut at last year’s world titles where she just missed a spot in the final of the 1500m.

Hull, McSweyn and Montag will all make their Olympic debut in Tokyo, with Barber and Bird-Smith returning for their second Games where Bird-Smith will be searching for another spot on the podium, after claiming the bronze medal in Rio in the 20km walk.

Bird Smith is also a member of the Commonwealth Games Australia Athlete Advisory Group.

Kelsey-Lee Barber won silver at the Gold Coast 2018 Games before going on to win the 2019 world championship (Getty Images)


Barber, who is based in Canberra was ecstatic to lock in her selection for Tokyo.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, it makes the Games feel real again,” Barber said. “It’s been my motivation since Rio to get back to an Olympic stadium – it’s something now I can set up the plan and start working towards it,” Barber told the Australian Olympic Committee.

“I’m really excited to wear the green and gold at another Olympics and show what I can do. After winning the World Championships last year and having that feeling of celebrating all the hard work you do day in and day out – it’s going to mean so much to me to be in Tokyo next year.

“I’m missing competing, but I’m using that to remind myself of what it will feel like to be back in that Olympic arena.  All the energy and excitement that comes from that is going to fuel my training in the coming months and I’m so looking forward to getting back and competing all in preparation for that big day next year.”

Hull, 23 and based in Wollongong after completing a Human Physiology major at the University of Oregon where she won a NCAA championship, said she was willing to wait for her first Olympic experience.

“It gives me goosebumps to think about Tokyo,” Hull said. “While we have to wait another year, it will increase the build-up and heighten the emotion, we’re going to be so happy when we get out there. It’s a childhood dream and now I know I’ll be there in Tokyo.”

“The biggest thing the past few months has showed me – through lockdown and quarantine, treadmill runs to just doing your part to stop the spread – we can achieve a lot more than we think we can. I was so lucky to have a lot of people around me back home who were willing to help out however they could.”

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman welcomed the athletes to the team.

“Congratulations to these athletes on earning their spot on the Team for the Tokyo Games,” Mr Chesterman said. “Each of them has shown what outstanding athletes they are, and we are excited to add our five track and field athletes to the Team, as athletics is always such an important part of every Games.

“Having moved beyond the original dates of Tokyo 2020, the full focus shifts to being ready for 23 July next year. On being told of their selection all five athletes have been positive that they can focus fully on the challenge ahead, to allow them to be at their best for the Games.

“This is a challenging time for athletes and sports across the world, but this is a day to celebrate for the athletes, their families, coaches, supporters, friends and the athletics community who have helped them reach this milestone.

The full and final athletics section will be announced in July 2021.

Today’s announcement takes the selected Team size for Tokyo 2020 to 78 athletes of an expected 480-strong Team. To date all four table tennis players, 12 of the 15 cyclists and 11 of the 15-strong shooting team have been previous Commonwealth Games team members, taking to 31 the number of Commonwealth Games Australia Alumni set to compete in Tokyo.

Name Events Age State Olympic Experience Commonwealth Games Experience
Kelsey-Lee Barber Javelin 26 ACT Rio 2016 2014 - Bronze - Javelin
2018 - Silver - Javelin
Dane Bird-Smith 20km Walk 28 QLD Rio 2016 - Bronze 2018 - Gold - 20km Walk
Jessica Hull 5000m 23 NSW Debut
Stewart McSweyn 5000m, 10000m 25 TAS Debut 2018 - 5000m - 5th; 10000m - 11th
Jemima Montag 20km Walk 22 VIC Debut 2018 - Gold - 20km Walk



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