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Getting to know our track and field team

7 August 2016

ATHLETICS: Australia’s track and field team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games boasts 60 impressive athletes to ensure its position as the largest section of the Australian Olympic Team.

It is the second biggest Australian track and field team to compete at an Olympic Games hosted internationally, behind the 1996 Atlanta Games, with the Sydney 2000 Games team and the Melbourne 1956 Games team the two biggest contingents.

With the track and field competition starting on August 12, here’s a look at the green and gold contingent set to shine in the Olympic Stadium. 

  • The women’s 4x400m relay team ensures that the team has more women than men, with 31 women and 29 men to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

  • Australia will field a starter in every women’s track event for the first time since Sydney 2000, with athletes entered in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles and 3000m steeplechase.

  • Thirty-one of the selected athletes will start at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a new personal best achieved in 2016. This includes Australian records to Alana Boyd in the pole vault and Brooke Stratton in the long jump.

  • The athletics section features 39 debutants, just shy of two-thirds of the squad.

  • Alana Boyd, Jeff Riseley, Benn Harradine, Dani Samuels, Chris Erickson and Lisa Weightman will all be competing at their third Olympic Games.

  • Alana Boyd will compete in the pole vault at her third Olympic Games, continuing a strong family tradition after both her parents previously donned the green and gold of Australia. Her father and coach, Ray, was also a pole vaulter, while her mother, Denise, was a sprinter.

  • Monica Brennan, who will compete in the 4x400m relay, is one of 10 children in her family. She is the second oldest. Born and raised in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, the 22-year-old will make her debut at Rio 2016, under the guidance of her coach and father Chris Brennan.

  • Cedric Dubler will compete in the decathlon, becoming the first Australian to do so since the Sydney 2000 Games. He also speaks fluent French, with his father from Switzerland and his mother from Belgium.

  • Peter Bol will compete in the 800m alongside Luke Mathews and Jeff Riseley. Peter was born in Khartoum before moving to Australia as a refugee from war-torn Sudan as a six-year-old. His family moved to Perth and Bol only spoke Arabic. Today, he is based in Melbourne with coach Justin Rinaldi and is completing a Bachelor of Construction & Management.

  • Ryan Gregson and Genevieve LaCaze are the athletics team’s glamour couple. They have been together for three years, with Gregson set to compete in the 1500m shortly after LaCaze competes in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m.

  • Jared Tallent will compete in the 50km walk as the reigning Olympic champion. He was elevated to the top of the podium after Sergey Kirdyapkin was banned from the sport for doping following the 2012 London Games, with Tallent being presented with his gold medal in Melbourne in June.

  • Jared Tallent will double up twice at Rio 2016. He will compete in the 20km walk and the 50km walk, as well as be an athlete and a coach, guiding his sister, Rachel, in the 20km walk just moments after his own race finishes.

  • The athletics section boasts siblings of other sport stars, too, with Jessica Trengove the older sister of Jack Trengove from the AFL’s Melbourne Football Club. Brandon Starc is the younger brother of Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc.

  • Benn Harradine is the only indigenous athlete on the athletics team for Rio 2016. He will continue the rich history of representation by Aboriginal Australians, including Catherine Freeman, Kyle Van Der Kuyp and Patrick Johnson.

  • Kurtis Marschall and Jessica Thornton are the youngest male and female athletes on the athletics section. Both will compete just weeks after starting at the IAAF World Under 20 Championships.

  • Scott Westcott and Lisa Weightman are the oldest male and female members on the Australian athletics team. Weightman is competing at her second Olympic Games in the marathon, while Westcott is an Olympic debutant in the marathon.

  • Morgan Mitchell is a strict vegan, with the 400m sprinter partially crediting her change of diet to her impressive recent form that includes a new personal best of 51.25 seconds, set in Birmingham on June 5, 2016.

  • Eloise Wellings, Lisa Weightman, Scott Westcott and Chris Erickson will all compete at the Olympic Games as parents. Eloise has a daughter, Indi, Lisa has a son, Peter, while Scott and Chris both have two children.

  • The athletics team has won by 21 gold, 25 silver and 25 bronze at previous Olympic Games.

  • The track and field competition will span nine days from August 12, with 47 medal events to be decided.

Cody Lynch

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