The world’s best long distance runners are set to descend on Bathurst in 2021 for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro, Member for Bathurst Paul Toole and Athletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher announced today.
The announcement comes on the back of Athletics Australia, Destination New South Wales and the City of Bathurst liaising closely with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over the past few months.
Athletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher said the announcement was an exciting one for Australian distance running and believes that the event being on home soil will be great for Australian athletics.
“Australia has been very successful in hosting world sporting events in the past, so we are very excited to welcome athletes from all around the world back to Australia,” Mr Gocher said.
“This will be a great opportunity for our athletes to compete on the world stage on home soil, which as we saw from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games can produce some great performances.”
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said Bathurst is home to some of the best trail running terrain and scenery in the country making it the perfect place to stage the World Cross Country Championships, which is the oldest competition on the IAAF calendar.
“The Central West offers first-class hospitality and has a proud track record of hosting major sporting events, and I am delighted the NSW Government has partnered with Athletics Australia to secure this major event for our community,” Mr Toole said.
The event will be held in Bathurst on 20 March 2021 and will bring together more than 700 competitors from 60 countries around the world
Also on hand for the announcement was current Australian 10,000m record holder Ben St Lawrence and NSW Cross Country champion Paige Campbell.
“I’ve been all over the world competing for Australia, so having this event at home will be brilliant,” St Lawrence said.
“I’m competing in Denmark for Australia in the IAAF World Cross Country in March, and if I’m in the team come 2021 – then having it near my home town would be amazing,” Paige Campbell said.
The first official IAAF World Cross Country Championships (WCC) was held in Belgium in 1973, but the tradition of cross country racing dates back to the late 1800s. The first International Cross Country Championships (the forerunner to this event) was held at Hamilton Park Racecourse in Scotland in 1903.
The most recent edition of the WCC was held in Kampala, Uganda in 2017 and attracted more than 550 runners from 60 countries, competing in men’s, women’s, under 20 and mixed relay categories.
Denmark will host the IAAF 2019 World Cross Country on March 30, which will see 24 Australians competing.