In the second of our series of previews of the 2018 Australian Athletics Championships & Nomination Trial at Carrara Stadium, February 15-18 we shine the spotlight on the women’s field events. Follow the championships online using the #AthleticsGold and #ThisIsAthletics
As each year passes, Dani Stevens (NSW) continues to grow in stature as one of the finest throwers in Australian history. At the 2018 Australian Athletics Championships & Nomination Trial, she will be looking to add another title to her national gold medal haul of 16. She opened her Commonwealth Games campaign two Friday’s ago at the NSW Championships where she spun the discus out to 66.02m. Battling for the silver and bronze medals and potentially Commonwealth Games berths at the nationals will be Glasgow 2014 competitors, Taryn Gollshewsky (Qld, discus in 2014) and Kim Mulhall (Vic, shot put in 2014).
Timing is the key in pole vault and Western Australia’s Nina Kennedy has vaulted a personal best of 4.71m less than a week before the nationals and third best in Australian history. Competition for Kennedy will be training partner and defending champion, Liz Parnov (WA) and Sunshine Coast’s emerging talent Lisa Campbell (Qld).
Glasgow javelin bronze medalist, Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) has a battle on her hands for the national title from three-time Commonwealth Games representative Kathryn Mitchell (Vic) who shocked recently with her season opening effort of 66.73m, just 10 centimetres shy of the national record.
Just one metre separates Australia’s leading women hammer throwers over the last year. Alex Hulley (NSW) with 67.91m and Lara Nielsen (Qld) on 66.90m. Nielsen is seeking her sixth consecutive national title and a return to the Commonwealth Games team after she competed in Glasgow.
One of the most improved events in Australia is the heptathlon. This summer five athletes have achieved Commonwealth Games B qualifiers and just 259 points separate them. The group is led by Victorian teenager Celeste Mucci who in December broke the 17-year-old national junior record. Mucci leads World University Games silver medalist Alysha Burnett (NSW), Glasgow Commonwealth Games fourth-place getter Sophie Stanwell (ACT) and Queensland’s Casidhe Simmons. But the athlete who could pose the largest threat for the title is Townsville’s Tori West. Over the last 12 months she has improved in all five heptathlon disciplines and sits within 100 points of the leaders Mucci and Burnett. This will be an intriguing event as it plays out over two days.
Reigning Commonwealth champion, Eleanor Patterson (Vic) will be hoping she can hold off a strong field of high jumpers and secure an opportunity to defend her Commonwealth crown and win her sixth consecutive national title. She and London world championships representative Nicola McDermott (NSW) lead the qualifiers with a best of 1.90m
In her one outing this summer, Australian record holder Brooke Stratton (Vic) was a comfortable winner of the long jump at the ACT Championships with a leap of 6.50m, ahead of world championship representative Naa Anang (Qld) with 6.40m. Both have Commonwealth Games A qualifiers, putting them in the box-seat for selection.
The Ambulant long jump, which is a selection trial for the T38/37 long jump, brings together two of Australia’s tremendous para long jump talents. Taylor Doyle (NSW) won silver at the Rio Paralympics with a leap of 4.62m. A year later, Erin Cleaver (NSW) duplicated that performance with silver at the Para-athletics London World Championships with a leap of 4.61m.
Two events, which are absent of Commonwealth Games qualifiers, the shot put and triple jump, are interestingly two of the most open national titles. National leaders in the triple jump going into the meet are Tierra Exum (Vic) and Meggan O’Riley (Vic) both with a seasonal best of 13.20m. However, in the shot put national leader, Julia Bourke (Vic) who is studying at Illinois State in America, won’t return, leaving 2015 and 2016 national champion, Chelsea Lenarduzzi (Qld) the national leader on paper heading into the nationals.
Start lists are now available here.