The very best of Australian athletics will be on show at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge this Saturday 5 March, as the most impressive track and field talent from across the country takes on a bounty of challengers from across the globe.
Headlined by world record holder David Rudisha (KEN, 800m), Commonwealth Games gold medallists Dani Samuels (NSW, discus throw) and Eleanor Patterson (Vic, high jump) and national record holders Alana Boyd(Qld, pole vault), Ben St Lawrence (NSW, 5000m), Ryan Gregson (NSW, 1500m), Alex Rowe (Vic, 800m), the event also features a further 19 athletes who donned the green and gold at the Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships.
Rudisha is one of the best ever, boasting a trophy cabinet that includes the Olympic Games gold medal, world titles in 2011 and 2015, a Commonwealth Games silver medal and 17 victories as part of the IAAF Diamond League series.
He will open his 2016 season in Australia to replicate the Olympic preparation that led to his world record at London 2012 four years ago, providing the ideal pace for domestic talent including Rowe, Joshua Ralph (NSW) and Luke Mathews (Vic). Ralph is already qualified in the two-lap race for Rio 2016, while Mathews will be on the hunt for yet another personal best after clocking an impressive 1:46.35 at the Hunter Track Classic last month.
Samuels’ start in the women’s discus throw follows a 66.41m best mark to dominate at the Auckland Track Challenge last week before a 64.57m effort to claim gold at the New South Wales Athletics Championships. Her appearance in Melbourne will be her first since 2014, when she threw a then personal best of 66.81m to win the national crown.
In the women’s javelin, London 2012 Olympic finalist Kathryn Mitchell (Vic) and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) will take to the runway, while Damien Birkinhead (Vic), who has a new personal best of 21.21m, will face-off with IAAF World Indoor Championships silver medallist Tom Walsh (NZL) in the men’s shot put.
Patterson’s start in the women’s high jump tops the jumps highlights, with the Commonwealth Games champion to compete alongside Glasgow 2014 representatives Hannah Joye (Qld) and Zoe Timmers (WA). Her career best of 1.96m is a mere two centimetres shy of the Australian record.
Not to be outdone, Boyd, a duel Commonwealth Games champion, will take to the runway in the women’s pole vault alongside New Zealand record holder Eliza McCartney (NZL) and the Perth-based Nina Kennedy (WA), Liz Parnov (WA), Vicky Parnov (WA) and Emma Phillipe (WA).
The men’s long jump features IAAF World Youth Championships silver medallist Darcy Roper (Qld) and national champion Robbie Crowther (Qld).
Entry lists also confirm the start of Commonwealth Games 1500m champion James Magut (KEN), Glasgow 2014 400m hurdles champion Kaliese Spencer (JAM) and Beijing 2015 4x400m relay gold medallist Christine Day(JAM).
The head-to-head battle between Magut and Gregson in the men’s 1500m will be bolstered by the challenge set down by Collis Birmingham (Vic), Sam McEntee (WA) and Jordan Gusman (ACT), while the longer 5000m boasts St Lawrence, Brett Robinson (Vic) and Elijah Kipchirchir (KEN).
Spencer and Day combine with Morgan Mitchell (Vic), Anneliese Rubie (NSW) and Monica Brennan (Vic) to deliver one of the most competitive women’s 400m races in recent Australian Athletics Tour history. They are joined on the list of track highlights by Aaron Stubbs (Qld) and Josh Ross (Vic) in the men’s 100m and the Olympic qualified Alex Hartmann (Qld) in the men’s 200m.
The IAAF Melbourne World Challenge is the fifth leg of the Australian Athletics Tour, a nationwide series providing crucial Olympic and Paralympic qualification opportunities for Australia’s best athletes. The event is also the opening leg of the global IAAF World Challenge series, with upcoming events to be held in cities including Berlin (GER), Madrid (ESP) and Beijing (CHN).
For more information on the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge, including entry lists and the event timetable, please click here.
Tickets to the event are available via Ticketmaster by clicking here. Children are free!
The IAAF Melbourne World Challenge will be broadcast LIVE & FREE online from 5:00pm at the Athletics Australia website