John Salvado / AAP News
A 15-strong Australian team will be donning the green and gold for the world indoor athletics championships in Belgrade.
In-form high jumper Eleanor Patterson and Tokyo Olympics decathlon bronze medallist Ash Moloney are among a 15-strong Australian team for the world indoor athletics championships in Belgrade.
Glasow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Patterson has made a flying start to the year as the overall winner of the World Indoor Tour in the women’s high jump.
The 25-year-old old broke the Australian indoor record with a clearance of 1.99m in Birmingham last month and will be among the gold-medal favourites for the March 18-20 world titles in the Serbian capital.
“It’s been a fun experience competing indoors and certainly fantastic to start with an indoor record and equalling my PB,” Patterson said.
“It’s been a good start to my year and my season and I am excited for what is to come, and I’m looking to continue to build upon everything I do.”
Moloney will contest the heptathlon in Belgrade in his first indoor competition, where he is expected to shine in the 60m sprint, 60m hurdles and the field events.
Australia will be well represented in the middle-distance events by a host of world-class performers including Ollie Hoare (1500m), Linden Hall (1500m), Jess Hull (1500m and 3000m) and Catrona Bisset (800m), and in the pole vault by Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Kurtis Marschall.
Eleanor Patterson has continued her stellar return to high jump after a period away from the sport following her gold medal win at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. (CGA Archive)
“We’ve had some great success at these championships over the years, with 21 medals won, including seven gold, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this group of athletes fare against some of the best in the world, in what is a very different setting to the competition we host domestically,” Athletics Australia general manager Andrew Faichney said.
“This team is one that has a real mix of youth and experience.
“Most of these athletes made their Olympic debut last year in Tokyo and many have spent the last few months putting their learnings from last year into practice throughout the World Indoor Tour season.”
Australian middle-distance superstar Stewart McSweyn has been forced to withdraw from the world indoor championships as he struggles with the after-effects of COVID-19.
McSweyn was unable to finish a 5000m race in Melbourne on Tuesday night due to breathing problems and will now be sent for respiratory and cardiac tests.
“We need to get an exact diagnosis of what it is,” McSweyn’s coach Nic Bideau told AAP.
“We think it’s down to COVID because this only started when he caught COVID (in January) but you never know.
“He’s fine at cruising pace but when he goes at a really hard pace it’s different.
“He was well clear in front last night, he only had one kilometre to go and he couldn’t make it.
“He wasn’t in any danger of losing but he just couldn’t run any further.”
McSweyn recently had his COVID booster shot and entered the race in suburban Box Hill in an attempt to prove his fitness for the world indoor championships in Belgrade beginn ing on March 18.
“That was the acid test,” said Bideau.
“I said to Stew ‘if you can’t get the qualifying time for the 5000 in that race then I won’t send you’.
“He’s a top-level athlete and I’m not sending him over there to run indoors with the world championships and the Commonwealth Games coming up later this year.”
Sprint star Rohan Browning experienced hamstring tendon irritation after racing in Adelaide last month and has decided to give the world indoors a miss, mindful of a busy year ahead including the world championships in Oregon and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Gold Coast 2018 bronze medallist and Tokyo Olympics high jump silver medallist Nicola McDermott also made herself unavailable for selection.
AUSTRALIAN WORLD INDOOR ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Men: 400m: Tom Willems. 800m: Charlie Hunter. 1500m: Ollie Hoare. 3000m: Matthew Ramsden. 60m hurdles: Nick Andrews, Chris Douglas. Pole vault: Kurtis Marschall. Heptathlon: Ash Moloney.