John Salvado / AAP News
Australia’s Field and Track stars are ready to be #BoldInGold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
There are a handful of truisms that hold up for every Commonwealth Games track and field competition.
Some events – mostly on the track – will be world-class.
Other events – often in the throws – will be far from it.
The splitting up of the home nations adds to the drama and the passion – think world championships medallists Jake Wightman and Laura Muir proudly representing the Saltire flag of Scotland rather than the Union Jack.
Just which global superstars show up often isn’t clear until a day or two before their events start, although there was more clarity when the entry lists were issued on Monday.
And then there’s the biggest truism of them all.
No ifs and no buts. Australia will be at full strength.
There’s never any suggestion that the likes of world championships gold medallists Eleanor Patterson and Kelsey-Lee Barber (COVID dramas notwithstanding) and bronze medallist Nina Kennedy would ever contemplate skipping the Games to focu s on upcoming Diamond League meets.
Marathoners Jessica Stenson and Madison de Rozario got the campaign off to a flying start on Saturday with a pair of titles – continuing the golden run by the female half of Australian athletics on the global stage.
The action now shifts to the 30,000-capacity Alexander Stadium for the main six-day program beginning on Tuesday.
Half a dozen gold medals are up for grabs on day one.
Pole vaulter Kennedy, who won a career-changing world championships bronze a fortnight ago in Eugene, is heavily favoured to top the podium on Tuesday (early Wednesday AEST) in Birmingham.
The West Australian proved her big-event mettle in the final with a clutch final-attempt clearance at her opening height of 4.45m before going over the next three bars at the first time of asking.
Kennedy will be the hunted rather than the hunter at the Commonwealth Games.
Rather than going toe-to-toe with the likes of US titans Katie Nageotte and Sandi Morris, Kennedy will be far and away the best-credentialled competitor in the field.
Rohan Browning faces a very different challenge in Birmingham.
The Australian sprint star was bitterly disappointed to be bundled out in the opening round of the men’s 100m in Oregon.
Even though all of the big-name Caribbean and African sprinters won’t front up, there will be plenty of sub-10 second men on the start-line, including defending champ Akani Simbine from South Africa and Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, who boasts a PB of 9.77.
“It’s a rare opportunity this year to get a second bite,” Browning told AAP in Eugene.
“That definitely takes a bit of the sting out of it.”
The women’s sprints will be much the poorer for the absence of some of Jamaica’s biggest names including five-time 100m world champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, who moved to No.2 on the 200m alltime list with her flying run of 21.45 seconds in Eugene.
But Elaine Thompson-Herah, who did the O lympic 100-200m double in Rio and Tokyo, remains on the entry list.
Many of the absentees will likely pop up in the Diamond League meet in Silesia, Poland on Saturday, which clashes with the penultimate day of the athletics program in Birmingham.
A different complication for the home nations has been balancing the world championships, Commonwealth Games and the upcoming European championships in Munich, all in the space of a hectic five and half weeks.
But for the likes of world 1500m medallists Wightman (gold) and Muir (bronze) and distance star Eilish McColgan, getting the once-in-every-four-years chance to don the navy blue and white of Scotland was a no-brainer.
“For us in Scotland the Commonwealth Games are important,’ said McColgan.
‘It’s special, it’s unique, it’s different and something we all want to do.”
Which sounds very much like the Australian approach