Inside Athletics

Australian junior championships preview


The Australian junior championships take place in Sydney over the next four days and are the selection trials for the 2010 world junior championships to be held in Moncton, Canada.

With a much more reasonable selection criteria than in place two years ago ? athletes need to only record one qualifying performance rather than two to be considered for selection ? the team will largely select itself; a qualifying standard and a win at nationals takes the discretion out of the selectors hands and automatically places an athlete on the team.

So whilst there is at least one likely Commonwealth Games participant in Liz Parnov competing at the meet, the most enticing events will be the ones where there are more than the allowable quota of two athletes which Australia is able to enter in the world juniors who have qualified so far.

Men's 1500m

Like their senior counterpart, the junior men's 1500m in Australia is currently loaded with talent - no fewer than five athletes have achieved the qualifying standard of 3:47.50 set by Athletics Australia. The quickest is world junior cross country representative from last year, Brett Robinson, who took advantage of a start in the fastest race of the season ? the Sydney Track Classic ? and ran 3:42.37.

Stepping up successfully this year from the 800m, where he represented Australia last year at the world youth championships, is Jordan Williamsz, who has run 3:44.27 this year and has demonstrated his championship pedigree twice so far during the season over Victorian team mate Kane Grimster at the Victorian and Australian all schools championships. Grimster, with a run of 3:45.80 at the Briggs Classic in Hobart, has also qualified and have athletes with a home track advantage: Todd Wakefield and Joshua Wright.

Wakefield has run 3:44.84 and has the international experience of competing in the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, but it is Wright who is the surprise packet in the field. Although he has the slowest time of those to better the qualifying standard, with a personal best of 3:46.79, Wright has only been training seriously for the past 18 months and is an unknown quantity to his competitors.

With other talented athletes such as world youth representative James Connor and Western Australia's Sam McEntee (PB 3:50.36) in the field but without qualifiers to their name, it is likely that they may push the pace, ensuring a fairly fast race.

Men's 100m

Three doesn't go very well into two and when you are talking about the fastest event of the weekend there is no margin for error if you don't want to be the odd one out. That's the situation which well could face Patrick Fakiye, Jake Hammond and Mathew Turk when the take to the straight of Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.

Fakiye has the fastest time of the trio with a 10.54 second run on 20 February, as well as clocking a wind-asssited 10.38 seconds run with a +3.2 m/s wind in November. Hammond has run slightly slower ? legally and wind-assisted ? with runs of 10.59 seconds and 10.40 seconds respectively, but tore his hamstring three weeks ago and has not raced since. Turk isn't far behind, with a personal best of 10.61 seconds.

Hammond and Turk have both qualified for the world juniors in the 200m, and if a 4x100m relay team is selected with Fakiye they are certain to form the basis for it.

Women's 200m

NSW pair Ella Nelson and Karlie Morton are both young enough to contest the 2012 edition of the world junior championships but will be doing their best to gain selection in the 2010 team. With marks of 23.94 and 24.01 seconds to their name they have good claim, as does Queensland's Caitlin Sargent, who clocked 24.14 seconds back in December and is the only one of the trio to have a qualifier in the 100m. Like in the men's 100m, should a 4x100m team be selected for the women, all three are likely to gain selection.

Women's discus

Kim Mulhall competed at the last world junior championships and is the overwhelming favourite to retain the national junior discus title for the second time. With a season's best of 54.50m ? better than the Commonwealth Games B-qualifier ? she is six metres ahead of the other qualifiers: Prabjot Rai of Victoria (47.91m) and Taryn Gollshewsky of Queensland (47.73m).

Men's 800m

The men's 800m is perhaps the most intriguing of the events where there are more qualifiers than places on the Australian team, for the mere fact that the fastest of those qualifiers, Alex Rowe from Victoria, is not seeking selection for the world junior championships, choosing instead to focus on his final year of school.

With his run of 1:47.56 at last week's Melbourne Track Classic, Rowe is the overwhelming favourite for the title. Should he take out the event it will mean that any selections for the world junior championships will be at the discretion of the selectors.

Even with Rowe out of the selection picture, there are still more qualifiers than places in the team. Jordan Williamsz has a qualifier of 1:49.72 to his name, whilst Queensland's Sudanese born Kuey Diew has a 1:50.30 clocking to his name. An underdog to gain selection is Queensland's Adrian Plummer, who ran 1:50.71 at the end of January.

Inside Athletics will be providing editorial coverage of all four days of the Australian junior championships and photographic coverage of the events on Saturday and Sunday.


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