Summer of Aths Grand Prix to heat up the nation’s capital
10 March 2017
ATHLETICS: There’s no place like Canberra (ACT) for athletics fans this weekend, as 41 Rio 2016 Olympians and Paralympians get set to join 11 starters from Nitro Athletics Melbourne for the much-anticipated 2017 SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix.
The penultimate hit-out for Australia’s best athletes ahead of the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships, which double as the Selection Trial for the London 2017 IAAF World Championships and World Para-Athletics Championships, the two-day event at the AIS Track and Field Centre will set the tone before race for the coveted title of national champion heats up in Sydney (NSW) later this month.
Competing on home soil for the first time since she missed the women’s 200m final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by a mere 0.01 seconds, sprinter Ella Nelson (NSW) is one to watch on the track.
Based in Phoenix (USA) where she trains at ALTIS, a high-performance centre, the 22-year-old has returned to Australia with automatic selection to London 2017 and a fourth Australian crown across 200m in her sights.
Nelson will be joined on the start line for the women’s 200m at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix by both one-lap specialist Morgan Mitchell (Vic) and national 100m record holder Melissa Breen (ACT), with the latter duo also set to compete in their preferred events of 400m and 100m respectively.
The men’s short sprints welcome Josh Clarke (NSW), the fastest man in Australia in 2016 with a personal best of 10.15, and Rio 2016 men’s 200m starter Alex Hartmann (Qld).
Hartmann’s Nitro Athletics teammates Jack Hale (Tas) and Aaron Stubbs (Qld) are also on entry lists, as is his fellow Queenslanders Tom Gamble (Qld) and Trae Williams (Qld).
Michelle Jenneke (NSW) and Brianna Beahan (WA) will chase the 12.98 qualifier for the London 2017 IAAF World Championships in the women’s 100m hurdles, while seven-time national champion Lauren Wells (ACT) competes at her home track in the women’s 400m hurdles.
The third fastest Australian of all-time in the women’s 1500m, Linden Hall (Vic), solidified her standing among the nation’s best distance runners when she clocked an impressive 4:01.78 at the Prefontaine Classic before making her Olympic debut at Rio 2016.
She now has the record of Sarah Jamieson in her sights, with her start across the distance at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix this weekend a step toward London 2017 selection and her chance to make amends for missing the final at the Olympic Games.
Peter Bol (Vic), an Olympic debutant alongside Hall last year, starts in the men’s 800m, with Beijing 2015 starter Joshua Ralph (NSW) and national record holder Alex Rowe (Vic) to challenge him across two laps.
The SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix also features the Australian 5000m Championship for men and women, with David McNeill (Vic), Stewart McSweyn (Tas), Bridey Delaney (NSW) and Jessica Trengove (SA) among the starters.
A last-minute qualifier in the men’s pole vault ensured an Olympic debut for Kurtis Marschall (SA) in 2016, but the 19-year-old from Adelaide (SA) will have plenty of time to prepare for London 2017 after already sailing over 5.70m to stake his claim for selection this season.
He now has a new personal best on Australian soil in his sights, with strong competition from Angus Armstrong (NSW) set to provide a great opportunity for big clearances at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix.
In the women’s high jump, Eleanor Patterson (Vic) will compete after clearing a season best of 1.90m at the Victorian Country Athletics Championships, while Rio 2016 Olympian Joel Baden (Vic) starts in the men’s event. Naa Anang (Qld), a Bolt All-Star at Coles Nitro Athletics Melbourne, will start in the women’s long jump.
A monster throw of 66.78m at the New South Wales Athletics Championships launched the season of Dani Stevens (NSW, nee Samuels) in outstanding style.
Set to return to the thrower’s circle for the women’s discus throw at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix, the former world champion will look to continue her early season form as she prepares to defend her national discus crown in Sydney (NSW) later this month.
The men’s event welcomes Matthew Denny (Qld), while in the men’s javelin Hamish Peacock (Tas) will take to the runway after throwing a London 2017 qualification standard of 83.02m in Hobart (Tas) earlier this month. Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) will compete in the women’s javelin and Damien Birkinhead (Vic) in the men’s shot put.
The SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix will be streamed at live.athletics.com.au. To view broadcast times, and to access the streaming platform, please click here.