Olympian Collis Birmingham (Vic) will stake his claim for selection to the Australian Team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships this weekend, as the nation’s best distance runners arrive at Stromlo Forest in Canberra (ACT) for the Selection Trial.

Set to lead out in the men’s 12km event, Birmingham, who has competed at five previous IAAF World Cross Country Championships, will be joined on the rugged course by his fellow Australian Flame teammates and London Olympians Jeff Hunt (NSW) and Martin Dent (ACT), Australian 10,000m championship medallists Mitchel Brown (Vic) and Brett Robinson (ACT) and City2Surf winner Liam Adams (Vic).

Brimingham is based in Ballarat (Vic), where he trains with Robinson and national 1500m record holder Ryan Gregson (NSW), and he has spent much of the last month in altitude training at Falls Creek. His entry to compete this weekend marks his first hit-out since glory across five kilometres in the Asics Bolt in Noosa (Qld) last November.

In the open women’s event (10km), national cross-country champion Celia Sullohern (NSW) will be the woman to beat after she won her first open Australian title in the event in Adelaide (SA) last August.

The best placed junior female for Australia at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Sullohern will welcome the challenge from Summer Universiade representative and two-time national championship medallist Clare Geraghty (Qld), Australian cross-country championship bronze medallist Milly Clark (NSW) and local charge Hannah Flannery (ACT).

In arguably the most competitive event on the schedule, the boy’s under 20 event (8km) will feature ten athletes who started in the De Castella under 20 3000m at the recent Zatopek:10, including second placed Zak Patterson (Vic) and third placed Jacob Birtwhistle, as well as national under 18 cross-country champion Morgan McDonald (NSW).

The junior girl’s race, across 6km, features Tamsyn McMahon (SA) and Samantha Prime (Vic), who crossed first and second in the Ondieki under 20 3000m, also at the Zatopek:10.

Excitingly for all athletes involved, the selection philosophy in 2013 ensures the first three placed athletes in the open men’s and women’s events will be automatically selected to compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

These athletes could form the basis of an open men’s and women’s team, with additional athletes to be added to the team at the sole discretion of Athletics Australia selectors. The Selection Policy will also see the Selectors take into account the 2012 National Cross Country Championships, the 2012 Zatopek:10 and the 2012 De Castella and 2012 Ondieki under 20 3000m for boy’s and girl’s respectively.

Dion Russell, Chairman of Selectors, said: “This is the first national representative team to be selected in 2013.

“A key change to previous years is the inclusion of automatic selections for the first three senior men and women across the line this weekend. This will allow six athletes to secure their spots in the team bound for Poland without the need for selector’s discretion.

“Upon reviewing the entry list it is pleasing to see a mixture of established athletes as well as some emerging runners on the starting line.”

For more information on the Selection Trial for the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, please click here.

For more information on the 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, to be held in Bydgoszcz (POL) on Sunday 24 March, please follow these links to the IAAF website and the Athletics Australia website.

The National Athletics Series, incorporating the 2013 Australian Athletics Tour, is an eight-stop nationwide tour that sees international athletics descend on every state.

The Australian domestic season also features the 4th Australian Junior Athletics Championships, to be held in Perth (WA) for the first time and the 91st Australian Athletics Championships & IAAF World Championships Selection Trial in Sydney (NSW) for the first time since 2006.

20 Jan 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Selection Trial - Canberra (ACT)
2 Feb 2013 Hunter Track Classic - Newcastle (NSW)
16 Feb 2013 Adelaide Track Classic - Adelaide (SA)
16-17 Feb 2013 Aust. Junior Combined Event Championships -Adelaide (SA)
23 Feb 2013 Briggs Athletics Classic - Hobart (Tas)
24 Feb 2013 Oceania & Aust. 20km Race Walking Championships - Hobart (Tas)
9 Mar 2013 Sydney Track Classic - Sydney (NSW)
12-17 Mar 2013 Australian Junior Athletics Championships - Perth (WA)
16 Mar 2013 Perth Track Classic - Perth (WA)
23 Mar 2013 Queensland Track Classic - Brisbane (Qld)
6 Apr 2013 Melbourne World Challenge - Melbourne (Vic)
11-14 Apr 2013 91st Australian Athletics Championships & IAAF World Championships Selection Trial - Sydney (NSW)