Australia’s best track and field athletes are ready to deliver their best performances as the 2018 Australian Athletics Championships & Nomination Trial gets underway tomorrow at the Gold Coast’s new-look Carrara Stadium.
The event doubles as the final selection trial for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with around 80 athletes set to secure their ticket to the games across the four exciting days of competition.
2017 IAAF World Championship discus silver medalist and former world champion, Dani Stevens (NSW), Olympic and world championship representative, 5000m competitor Pat Tiernan (Qld) and Australia’s first decathlon representative in 16 years in Rio, Cedric Dubler (Qld) joined Athletics Australia CEO, Darren Gocher at the Kurrawa Surf Club on Wednesday on the eve of the championships.
Adding to the high stakes of this year’s Australian Athletics Championships & Nomination Trial is the inauguration of the Betty Cuthbert Medal, awarded for the outstanding single performance of the competition with the winner to be announced at Sunday’s night’s Athletics Australia Gala Dinner at The Star.
“This award is set to become one of the most prestigious in Australian sport and to win it on the first occasion will be something very special,” said Gocher.
Commonwealth Games and Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said these trials will be the first major test for the upgraded Carrara Stadium, with athletes across Australia getting a first look at these world-class facilities ahead of the Games.
“Our national champions will return to Carrara Stadium in less than two months’ time to compete on the world stage at the Games,” Jones said.
“These trials are one of the highlights of Queensland’s major sporting events calendar for 2018 and I encourage athletes and visitors to stay on and explore the Gold Coast from the beautiful beaches to the hinterland.”
No athlete at these championships will experience as much of Carrara Stadium, as decathlete Cedric Dubler (Qld).
Twenty-three-year-old Dubler is hoping that competing at home this weekend and then at the Commonwealth Games in April, will in lead to a new generation taking up the discipline.
“I share my journey quite openly on social media and I have been receiving quite a lot of messages from people who were inspired by my training and performances and said they have gone and participated in a decathlon because they saw me do it,” he said. “It is a really nice feeling to know you are inspiring athletes.”
Dani Stevens (NSW) will be hoping to add to her haul of 12 national discus titles on Sunday when she steps into the throwing circle. Stevens, will also be looking to secure her spot on the Australian Commonwealth Games team to defend her Glasgow title.
“I’m so glad that the nationals are finally here,” Stevens said.
“I feel really fantastic; I’m turning 30 this year so people have labelled me a veteran. This will be my third Commonwealth Games however I feel like I’m just getting warmed up.”
Having already secured his spot at the Commonwealth Games in the 10,000m, Toowoomba’s Pat Tiernan will attempt to book a place in the 5000m on the opening night of competition on Thursday.
“I’ve got the A qualifier but there’s also three other guys with the A [Stewart McSweyn – Tas, Sam McEntee – Vic, Morgan McDonald – NSW] and then one or two others with a B,” he said. “It’s going to be a great race.”
The 2018 Australian Athletics Championships & Nomination Trial runs Thursday, February 15 through Sunday, February 18.
A live stream will be available across all days via the Athletics Australia website, with up to the minute action delivered across Athletics Australia’s social media platforms. You can follow the action by using the #AthleticsGold.
Day 1 competition begins at 1500 local time, with finals including the men’s 5000m (Patrick Tiernan – Qld) and the women’s T38 para long jump (Erin Cleaver – Qld). Heats and qualifying rounds include women’s heptathlon (Celeste Mucci – Vic, Alysha Burnett – NSW), 100m, 400m (Morgan Mitchell – Vic), 1500m (Linden Hall – NSW), pole vault (Nina Kennedy – WA), hammer throw and men’s 100m (Jack Hale – Tas, Rohan Browning – NSW), 800m (Luke Mathews – Vic), triple jump and discus (Matt Denny – Qld, Benn Harradine – Qld).
Live results can be found at live.athletics.com.au