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Gold Coast stars book athletics ticket to Tokyo

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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has formally added 15 members to its athletics team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, including 11 Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games team members.

Gold Coast pole vault gold medallist Kurtis Marschall and discuss gold medallist Dani Stevens headline the latest 15 track and field athletes selected to the Australian Olympic Team for the Tokyo Olympics.

Stevens, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and 2009 world champion is set to feature in her fourth Olympics and will aim to win her first Olympic medal, having made the discus final three times.

She returns after recovering from a serious neck injury in 2020 that would have kept her out of the team if the Olympics had been held on schedule in July last year.

“This team has been the hardest one to make and the one I’m most grateful for,” Stevens said.

“It’s really special to know I’ll be there in Tokyo.

“Thinking about becoming a four-time Olympian is really quite cool.

“I’m looking to be in personal best shape for me, and that Olympic medal is the one that I don’t have so I would love to walk away with that from Tokyo.”

The gold medal-winning duo joins Gold Coast 2018 long jump silver medallist Brooke Stratton, pole vault bronze medallist Nina Kennedy, decathlon bronze medallist Cedric Dubler, and GC2018 team members Riley Day (200m), Genevieve Gregson (steeplechase), Linden Hall (1500m) and Rohan Browning (100m).

But the star of the meet was high jumper Nicola McDermott.

Nicola McDermott celebrates after setting a new Australian record of 2.00m in the high jump. (Nicola McDermott / Instagram)

 

The Gold Coast 2018 bronze medallist became the first Australian woman to break the 2-metre barrier setting a national record in the process, breaking the mark set by Glasgow 2014 gold medallist and fellow Australian team member Eleanor Patterson who set the previous record of 1.99m last year in New Zealand.

It continues the meteoric rise of McDermott, who has continued to surge in her results since posting a then career best mark of 1.86m in 2014, to earning the bronze medal at the Games on the Gold Coast with a 1.91m jump, to now reaching the significant 2m mark.

At just 24-years-old, McDermott has now become a world-class high jumper and inserts herself into Olympic medal contention, demonstrating the importance of the progression pathway the Commonwealth Games provides.

The championships in Sydney also proved to be a spectacular meet for five athletes set to make their Olympic debuts.

Jye Edwards (NSW) produced the run of his life in the final of the 1500m, toppling warm favourite and Gold Coast 2018 team member Stewart McSweyn (TAS) in a breakthrough performance. McSweyn, who has already qualified for the Tokyo team, was forced to do a mountain of work in front before Edwards stole the show on the home straight to stop the clock in 3:33.99, earning him his first Olympic qualification.

After missing out on competing at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games due to injury, Liz Clay (QLD) continued her unbeaten run this season in the 100m Hurdles to secure her maiden national title and move one step closer to her Olympic dream. Clay clocked 12.97 on her way to victory, and with two Olympic qualifiers under her belt received an automatic nomination for Tokyo.

Catriona Bisset (VIC) stormed home to win the 800m national title, crossing the line in 2:00.45, much to her relief and qualifying for her first Olympic team.

“I am so relieved, I just wanted to win so badly. I’ve been dreaming about this race and running through this race in my head for weeks now, and I think I could’ve done it in my sleep I’ve done it so many times now,” Bisset said.

“The whole idea was to go through quick. You can’t always get a free ride on Catriona Bisset, sometimes you have got to work for it.”

Athletics Australia 2020 Junior Athletes of the Year (sponsored by Commonwealth Games Australia) recipients Bendere Oboya and Ashley Moloney have both qualified for their first Olympic Games.

 

Oboya continues a sizzling summer of results by winning the women’s 400m title in a time of 52.22 seconds. The victory keeps the Gold Coast 2018 team member’s winning streak against Australian competitors alive, which has now reached an impressive 30 straight races.

 

Emerging decathlete Moloney continues his stellar 2020 season by winning the men’s decathlon title at the 2021 championships, scoring a total of 8284, winning six of the ten events, defeating his training partner and Gold Coast bronze medallist Cedric Dubler.

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman welcomed the athletes to the Team after an excellent national championships.

“The AOC is thrilled to announce these 15 outstanding athletes to the Team for the Tokyo Games,” Mr Chesterman said.

“The group includes national champions and national record-holders, who have produced world class performances to achieve tough qualifying standards. This selection is testament to the incredible work they have put in over their entire athletic career and in particular their efforts throughout such a trying 2020. Today is a great celebration of that determination.

“Congratulations not only to the athletes but to the coaches, families, teammates, friends, sporting institutes and everyone at Athletics Australia who has helped develop these athletes across the years to be ready to take on the world on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”

The 15 athletes announced today join Kelsey-Lee Barber (javelin), McSweyn (5000m, 10000m), Jess Hull (5000m), Dane Bird-Smith (20km walk) and Jemima Montag (20km walk) who were announced in August 2020, bringing the selected track and field total to 20.

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

The announcement takes the selected Team size for Tokyo 2020 to 95 athletes of an expected 480-strong Team. To date all four table tennis players, one of the three archers, 12 of the 15 cyclists and 11 of the 15-strong shooting team have been previous Commonwealth Games team members, taking the number to 46 Commonwealth Games Australia Alumni members set to compete in Tokyo.

Athletes can also earn qualification for Tokyo based on world rankings the end of June, with additional athletes due to be nominated for selection then in line with Athletics Australia’s nomination criteria and Tokyo 2020.

 

Current Australian Olympic Athletics Team (as at 18 April 2021):

Name Events Age State Olympic Experience Commonwealth Games Experience
Kelsey-Lee Barber Javelin 26 ACT 2nd (2016) 2014 – Javelin - Bronze; 2018 – Javelin - Silver
Dane Bird-Smith 20km walk 28 QLD 2nd (2016 - 20km walk - bronze) 2018 – 20km Walk - Gold
Catriona Bisset 800m 27 NSW Debut
Rohan Browning 100m 23 NSW Debut 2018 – 100m - Semi-Final; 4x100m Relay - 4th
Liz Clay 100m hurdles 25 NSW Debut
Riley Day 200m 21 QLD Debut 2018 – 200m - Semi-Final; 4x100m Relay - DQ
Cedric Dubler Decathlon 26 QLD 2nd (2016) 2018 – Decathlon - Bronze
Jye Edwards 1500m 23 NSW Debut
Genevieve Gregson 3000m Steeplechase 31 QLD 3rd (2012 & 2016) 2014 – 3000m Steeplechase - 5th; 2018 – 3000m Steeplechase - 5th
Linden Hall 1500m 29 VIC 2nd (2016) 2018 – 1500m - 4th
Jessica Hull 5000m 23 NSW Debut
Nina Kennedy Pole vault 24 WA Debut 2018 – Pole vault - Bronze
Nicola McDermott High jump 24 NSW Debut 2018 – High jump - Bronze
Stewart McSweyn 5000m, 10000m 23 NSW Debut 2018 – 5000m - 5th; 10000m - 11th
Kurtis Marschall Pole vault 23 SA Debut 2018 – Pole vault - Gold
Ash Moloney Decathlon 21 QLD Debut
Jemima Montag 20km walk 22 VIC Debut 2018 – 20km Walk - Gold
Bendere Oboya 400m 21 NSW (Ethiopia) Debut 2018 – 400m - Heats
Dani Stevens Discus 32 NSW 4th (2008, 2012 & 2016) 2006 – Discus - Bronze; 2014 – Discus - Gold; 2018 – Discus - Gold
Brooke Stratton Long jump 27 VIC 2nd (2016) 2018 – Long Jump - Silver

With thanks Athletics Australia and Australian Olympic Committee.

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