The 2019 Queensland Track Classic on Saturday night in Brisbane is brimming with internationals, primarily Asian athletes preparing for next month’s Asian Athletics Championships in Doha. Their arrival is timely, providing quality competition for the Australians a week ahead of the national championships.
The first event is at 4.45pm, commencing with a pre-program that includes some quality B events and additional opportunities for some athletes seeking a second race to practice in a championship format.
Here are just some of the feature events, individual athletes and clashes on the program.
The men’s 100m features Japan’s sub-10 man Yoshihide Kiryu (PB 9.98), along with Kim Kuk-young (KOR) PB 10.07 and Aska Cambridge (JPN) PB 10.08. They will give our quickest Aussies some great competition. Our best at the Commonwealth Games, Rohan Browning, returns to the 100m after running a 400m and 200m at previous track classic meets. Can he challenge Jack Hale who has been undefeated by any Aussie this summer? Last Saturday in Perth Jack trimmed his PB to 10.20 – can he go quicker? Purely on time the fastest Aussie in the field is teenager Jake Doran, courtesy of his national junior record time of 10.15 last July.
After the most amazing 2018 season, Kathryn returns to the javelin runup in Brisbane. During a three month stretch in early 2018, she broke the Australian javelin record on three occasions, added two metres to the Australian record, won gold at the Commonwealth Games with an extraordinary throw of 68.92m. Her last two marks of 68.57m then 68.92m, were the longest throws in the world for over four years, since 2013, and elevated her to number seven in history. No one has thrown that far since.
On Saturday night she has a terrific field to compete against including Australia’s two-time Commonwealth Games medallists Kelsey Barber, New Zealand record holder Tori Peeters and two 59/60m throwers from Japan Risa Miyashita and Yuka Mori.
MEN HIGH JUMP
Brandon Starc will make his season debut in Brisbane, his first appearance in Australia following his landmark 2018 campaign where he won the Diamond League final, equalled the Australian record with an extraordinary clearance of 2.36m and won a silver medal at the Continental Cup – all after he took gold at the Commonwealth Games.
For his return, he has some quality competition from 2.30m jumpers and Olympians Woo Sang-hyeok (Korea) and Nauraj Singh Randhawa (Malaysia). Also, in the field is Brisbane’s Youth Olympic Games medallist Oscar Miers.
WOMEN 100 HURDLES
The impressive teenage heptathlete Celeste Mucci, who has been undefeated by any Aussie in the 100m or 100m hurdles this season, heads the 100m hurdles field. At the Sydney Track Classic, she defeated all the competition, including Commonwealth Games finalists Brianna Beahan and Michelle Jenneke, running 13.18w. Since that race, Jenneke has run a quick time of 13.05 at the NSW championships and will be tough competition. Also, on the start line will be Japan’s Ayako Kimura, who has been a world championship semi-finalists with a PB of 13.03.
After his fabulous season debut over 800m in Perth on Saturday night, Luke Mathews doubles the distance in Brisbane. In Perth, in his first 800m for 11 months, he ran his second fastest ever time, recorded a world championships qualifier and defeated national 800m record holder Joseph Deng. After his race in Perth he declared his strong interest in the 1500m and aim to secure a qualifier.
“I want to go to the world champs in the 800m and 1500m, so I’ll try and get a 1500 soon. So the goal is to get ready, get fit and make the Doha final because in 2017 at the world championships I missed by 0.3 in the 1500m - so hopefully Doha is the one.”
Two of Australia’s finest race walkers Dane Bird-Smith and Katie Hayward will be in action in a 3000m track walk. Bird-Smith, 26, has compiled an impressive international record including bronze at the Rio Olympics and gold at both the Commonwealth Games and World University Games. Hayward, 18, has recently been breaking records galore. In January she broke the under-20 10,000m walk, in February she won the Oceania 20km walk in Adelaide in 1:29.25, a time which was the fastest ever by an Australian on home soil as she became the third fastest is Australian history. Last weekend in Japan she proved the time was no fluke, by walking 1:29.31 in an elite field of Chinese & Asian race walkers.
This event showcases a group of Australia’s rising youth joined by New Zealand international, Zoe Hobbs. Commonwealth Games team mates, Riley Day, 18, and Maddie Coates, 21, are joined by the quickest Australian this summer, junior international Nana Owusu-Afriyie (VIC), 19. Expect a very close race as Hobbs and Owusu-Afriyie set their PBs of 23.19 & 23.28, respectively, in Canberra last month.
Prior to this season Matt Denny has only exceeded 64 metres twice on home soil, at the Commonwealth Games trials and in the Games. He has started 2019 with 64.05m and 64.09m in Brisbane and 64.49m in Perth last week.
Undoubtedly in the best form of his career, he is chasing a world championships standard of 65.00m, which looks well within him on Saturday night.
WOMEN LONG JUMP
Brisbane long jumper Naa Anang has had a few good years in athletics recent. In 2015 she won bronze at the World University Games, in 2017 she qualified for her first senior global meet - the world championships and in 2018 was a finalist at the Commonwealth Games. But in 2019 she has been at a new level of consistency where she has challenged national record holder Brooke Stratton and in Perth last week even defeated her.
But after her win in Perth, Naa highlighted how much of a positive impact Brooke has had on her own career, highlighting that good opposition can help push athletes to PBs and new levels.
“It is awesome to compete with Brooke, obviously she is the Australian record holder and in a league of her own, but she is someone I aspire to, but it is also cool that she is my peer and that I get to jump with her. She really helps me strive to be better.”
Over the last six years, only national record holder Damien Birkinhead had exceeded 18 metres, but that was until junior Aiden Harvey (NSW) reached 18.20m on January 6. Two weeks later Courtney Heinze (WA) responded with 18.10m. Over the last couple of months, they have both improved, Aiden up to 18.40m, then last week Courtney just 1cm further than Aiden – with 18.41m. What a great battle we should have in Brisbane on Saturday.
MEN LONG JUMP
Former standout junior long jumper (medals at the world juniors and world youth), Darcy Roper has been the form long jumper this summer. At the ACT Championships he jumped an amazing 8.20m, only to be informed the wind was an illegal 2.1m/s – just over the legal 2m/s. In Perth last Saturday he went even further 8.32m, but again it was wind assisted 2.6m/s. But he followed this up with two wind-legal jumps over his old PB of 8.01m with marks of 8.13m and 8.11m. Saturday night at the Queensland Track Classic he has a quality field to compete against including training partner and Commonwealth Games team member Chris Mitreviski.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia