As the world’s top track and field athletes descend on one of America’s most green states, there could be some gold heading the way of Australia’s top medal chances.
Pole vaulter Nina Kennedy believes the 64-strong squad Australia have assembled for next week’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon is one of their strongest squads yet.
The Australian team includes Tokyo medallists Ashley Moloney (decathlon), Nicola Olyslagers (née McDermott) (high jump) and Kelsey-Lee Barber (javelin), as well Olympic finalists Peter Bol (800m), Jessica Hull (5000m), Eleanor Patterson (high jump), Matt Denny (discus) and Oliver Hoare (1500m).
Bol and Kennedy headline six West Australians who will be wearing the green and gold in Eugene, alongside pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall, 1500m and 5000m runner Matthew Ramsden, 20km walker Declan Tingay and javelin thrower Cruz Hogan.
Kennedy said the team heading to America’s north-west was capable of featuring towards the pointy end of the medal tally.
“I think we’ll be taking home so many medals at world champs. The high jump, the discus, we have a few good distance runners, the pole vault, it’s just a really packed team and it’s super exciting to see what we can do,” she said.
Eugene will mark the end of a seven-year hiatus from the World Championships for Kennedy, with her only previous appearance on debut as a teenager in 2015.
After the pandemic and injuries intervened over the last couple of year, Kennedy is relishing a return to competing against the cream of the crop and is determined to show the strides she has made.
“I feel like I’ve been out of the world champs game a long time, but it’s a massive event. It’s the same standard as the Olympics, the top 32 girls in the world,” she said.
“I know I’m a really good jumper, but I really haven’t performed on the international stage in a few years. My training is there and my heights are there, I just have to show everyone what I can do.”
The Bussleton product will head to Eugene as the world number 15, but has raised the bar in the lead-up to the tournament, with a pair of 4.65m jumps which netted her gold in Finland and silver at a Diamond League meet in Morocco – the latter of which came ahead of the Tokyo gold and bronze medallists.
“Pole vault is a lot about who performs best on the day. Girls can have massive PBs, but if they’re not performing on the day, you can beat them,” Kennedy said.
“You have to think about the weather, the crowd, there’s so many factors that come into it and I was just better on the day, so it has filled me with a lot of confidence.”
Her teammate Marschall said the World Championships would provide the perfect preparation for the Commonwealth Games, which begin just four days after.
“I particularly thrive off of competing a lot and so having a lot more competitions leading up to he Commonwealth Games means that I’ll be able refine everything,” he said.
2022 World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
Live via SBS On Demand
West Aussies in action (all times WST)
Peter Bol (800m)
Heats: Wednesday July 20 8.20am Semi-finals: Thursday July 21 10am Final: Saturday July 23 9am
Nina Kennedy (Pole vault)
Qualification Saturday July 16 8.20am Final Monday July 18 8.25am
Kurtis Marschall (Pole vault)
Qualification: Saturday July 23 8.05am Final: Monday July 25 8.25am
Matthew Ramsden (1500m and 5000m)
1500m Heats: Sunday July 17 9.30am Semi-Final: Monday July 18 10am Final: Wednesday July 20 10.30am
5000m Heats: Friday July 22 9.10am Final: Monday July 25 9.05am
Declan Tingay (20km walk)
Race: Saturday July 16 6.10am
Cruz Hogan (Javelin)
Qualification: Friday July 22 From 8.05am Final: Sunday July 24 9.35am