Many of Australia's top athletes will have their final hit out before the national championships and Commonwealth Games trial when they compete this weekend in the NSW, Victorian or Western Australian state championships.
For some it is simply a matter of honing their championship preparation - running rounds and in the distance races at least, tactics rather than time trialling - but others will chase the elusive qualifying standards which will go part of the way to booking their seat on the plane to the Commonwealth Games.
Almost universally within the athletics community there will be hope of a good news story for sprint hurdler Hayley Cameron, whose Commonwealth Games qualifying performance of 13.46 seconds at the ACT championships in her first hurdle race in three years was thwarted by the type of rigidly bureaucratic interpretation of rules that could only occur within the nation's capital. Rather than attempt to repeat the excellent work of Mike Hurst, read here for more information.
But aside for redemption by the sport, individual athletes will endeavour to become masters of their own destiny. The A-qualifier is the coveted prize and those who leave the national championships with one recorded since mid-last year need only to win their event at nationals or place second behind someone else who has the qualifier in order to be automatic selections to the team.
So for athletes like Ben Offereins (WA Championships: 400m), Lachlan Renshaw (NSW: 800m), Scott Martin and Dale Stevenson (VIC: shot put), Benn Harradine (VIC: discus), Melissa Breen (NSW: 100m), Madeleine Pape (VIC: 800m), Petrina Price (NSW: high jump) and Ellen Pettitt (WA: high jump) and world champion Dani Samuels (NSW: discus) the weekend effectively serves as good practice at their specialty.
The same could almost be said for pole vaulters Liz Parnov and Amanda Bisk, who will contest the WA championships, yet with Vicky Parnov returning to strong form last weekend with a leap of 4.20m and Olympian Alana Boyd to fire on all cylinders yet this season, their event is effectively a full dress rehearsal for the nationals.
Contrastingly, the toughest event to make the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games - the men's 1500m - will see none of the main protagonists in action over that distance. Nic Bideau managed athletes, Collis Birmingham (world cross country), Mitch Kealey (broken arm), Jeff Riseley and Ryan Gregson will not compete on the track anywhere in Australia this weekend, whilst the other athlete with an A-qualifer, Jeremy Roff, is choosing to hone his speed over 800m at the NSW championships.
The NSW 800m is the deepest and most unpredictable held anywhere this weekend, with Olympian Lachlan Renshaw, although possessing an A-qualifier from the European summer, only sitting fourth on the domestic season rankings behind Gregson and two 400m men who have successfully transitioned to the two laps: Tristan Garrett (1:46.66) and James Gurr (1:46.77). Add to the field Roff, reigning national champion Nick Bromley, world junior finalist James Kaan and the talented but inconsistent Werner Botha and anything could happen.
Other athletes in action over the weekend include Georgie Clarke, who will contest the 1500m at the Victorian championships after a solid comeback race over 800m last week at the Victorian Milers Club; Aaron Rouge-Serrett, who will contest the 100m and 200m at the WA championships after a 100m personal best of 10.33 seconds last weekend in Perth; quarter milers Jody Henry (WA: 200m and 400m - PB last week of 52.30s), Joel Milburn (NSW: 200m and 400m) and Sean Wroe (VIC: 100m and 200m); 400m hurdler Lauren Boden (NSW: 400m); 800m runner turned 400m hurdler Tamsyn Lewis (VIC: 100m, 200m and 400m hurdles); and several members of the recently selected Australian team for the world junior championships.
Click here for a full preview of the Victorian championships courtesy of Athletics Victoria