The 2021 Queensland Track Classic this Saturday night in Brisbane features the best domestic field assembled outside of a national championship for over a decade. There is outstanding quality and depth, many rivalries, and a significant number of new athletes reflecting the best domestic season for years.
The meet is the leading competition in the Oceania region for the year and is part of the World Athletics Continental Tour, with silver status. This is important as points earned will assist athletes with ranking points to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics – those who sit below the qualifying standards. When the Olympic standards were developed by World Athletics it was estimated 50 per cent of the athletes would qualify through meeting the standard and 50 per cent through their ranking.
Here is a look at some of the events:
Women’s Pole Vault
An incredibly consistent summer of vaulting by Nina Kennedy (Paul Burgess & James Fitzpatrick) resulted in an Australian record of 4.82m at the Sydney Track Classic. She cleared the record height on her first attempt, then went very close to clearing 4.87m. She is aiming to raise her record again in Brisbane and no one would doubt her ability to achieve that in this form. Elizaveta Parnova (Paul Burgess & James Fitzpatrick) vaulted 4.50m in Sydney and is getting close to her PB of 4.60m.
Women’s 100m hurdles
This is easily the best ever line-up of Australian hurdles in one race. Six of the top-10 in Australian history line up here – four have set PBs in 2021 with 13.05 the slowest amongst them. Liz Clay (Sharon Hannan) has been been the standard out with runs of 12.84, 12.94, 12.72 and 12.88 in 2021. Behind Clay, anyone of the other five could fill the podium with all having strong claims.
Celeste Mucci (Darren Clark) – Ran her fastest time this year of 12.98 and has also run two 100m PBs
Michelle Jenneke (Gary Bourne) – fastest amongst the five contenders at 12.84.
Abbie Taddeo (Penny Gillies) – won the Canberra Track Classic and has set two PBs this season.
Hannah Jones (Sally Pearson) – made the most progress this summer after starting the season at 13.43 – has run PBs of 13.11, 13.03 and 13.01.
Brianna Beahan (Ryan Moore) – has run a 100m PB this summer.
Men’s 800 metres
Peter Bol (Justin Rinaldi) has been the form athlete this year with three wins and a near miss of the Olympic standard. He has been ably paced by training partner and national record holder Jo Deng (Justin Rinaldi), but in Brisbane, Deng is set to race and anything is possible. Three-time Olympian Jeff Riseley (Justin Rinaldi) has been improving with each race. Watch for more progress from the second fastest Aussie this summer, teenager Jack Lunn (Steve Fabris) and 16-year-old Charlie Jeffreson (Penny Gillies).
Women’s 400 metres
Bendere Oboya (John Quinn) is in incredible form this summer. She ran 51.61 recently – the second fastest Australian on home soil for 12 years. Olympian Anneliese Rubie-Renshaw (Peter Fortune) and teenager Ellie Beer (Qld, Brett Robinson) should fill the podium clocking sub-53 times.
Women’s 800 metres
This is another rematch between national record holder Catriona Bisset (Peter Fortune) and Linden Hall. In their last clash at the Sydney Track Classic, Australia’s inform middle-distance runner Hall stole the race, opening up a 15-metre lead early on Bisset, and hanging on for victory. However, Bisset remains the season’s fastest with 2:00.19 in Canberra. Could we see two athletes under two minutes? Recently Claudia Hollingsworth (Craig Mottram) broke the world 15 and 16 years 1000m record and should break her 800m PB of 2:05.75.
Men’s 100 metres
Rohan Browning (Andrew Murphy) returns to the venue of his 10.08 PB two years ago. He is in better form and in favourable conditions an Olympic qualifier of 10.05 is on the cards. Jack Hale (Adam Larcom) should lower his season’s best of 10.21 and press his 10.12 PB. New Zealand’s Eddie Osei-Nketia has been racing regularly in New Zealand, once clocking 10.28 and averaging 10.6. Jake Penny (Matt Wade & Mandi Cole) has been the most consistent from a group of Aussie contenders.
Women’s 100 metres
Hana Basic (John Nicolosi) has this season gone from a fringe selection in these races to the unbackable favourite here. Behind her is a group of six with 2021 best times between 11.47 and 11.54, but look for Riley Day (Paul Pearce) to step-up following her 200m Olympic qualifier of 22.77. An 11.32 athlete, Naa Anang (Gary Bourne) is easing back into competition after a season opener of 11.74 in the rain in Canberra.
Women’s 200 metres
While there have been some good 100m clashes this summer, there hasn’t been many 200m clashes, but this race has all of Australia’s best. Riley Day (Paul Pearce) is a favourite after her 22.77 Olympic qualifier at the Sydney Track Classic. Monique Quirk (Greg Smith) is likely better over 200m than 100m and has run 23.20 this summer. After mixed form for a while, 2018 Commonwealth Games 200m semi-finalist Maddie Coates (Scott Rowsell) will take a lot of confidence from her recent 11.65 100m into a strong headwind. 200m is her preferred distance.
Individual feature athletes
Long jumper Brooke Stratton (Russell Stratton) has been in good form this summer with a few 6.70 jumps and is well on track to nail the Olympic qualifier of 6.82m.
High jumper Eleanor Patterson (Alex Stewart) is making her season debut. In her last competition 11 months ago, she broke the Australian record and cleared 1.99m.
A year after sustaining nerve damage in her neck following a gym accident, discus thrower Dani Stevens (Denis Knowles) made a wonderful return to competition at the Sydney Track Classic throwing 63.36m, just below the Olympic standard of 63.50m. Even better were her 65m warmup throws.
11 months ago in Wellington, NZ, discus thrower Matty Denny (Ben Thomson) threw a PB of 65.47m, but that would be the end of his season due to COVID. His 2020/21 season started well in December with a best throw of 63.77m, but then he hurt two ribs and strained his right Costochondral joint. Now he is back and ready to throw.
In his first vault outside of Perth in over a year, Kurtis Marschall (Paul Burgess & James Fitzpatrick) cleared 5.75m at the Sydney Track Classic. He has twice gone over 5.80m this summer. His PBs are 5.81m (outdoors) and 5.87m (indoors) and are under threat.
There are so many more of Australia’s leading athletes to watch in Brisbane including: high jump – Brandon Starc (Alex Stewart) and Joel Baden (Sandro Bisetto), long jump – Chris Mitrevski (John Boas) and Henry Frayne (Gary Bourne), javelin – Kelsey-Lee Barber (Mike Barber) and Mackenzie Little (Angus McEntyre), 3000m Steelechase – Ben Buckingham (Nic Bideau), and James Nipperess (Dick Telford), 110m hurdles – Nick Hough (Anthony Benn) and Nick Andrews (NSW, Tim O’Neil).
The timetable, entry list and tickets are available at: https://bit.ly/2OQPhvv