The IAAF World Championships have drawn to a close in Beijing (CHN) tonight, with the Australian Flame concluding their admirable campaign with two silver medals and a further three top-eight performances.
Buoyed by the team’s performance, Athletics Australia Head Coach, Craig Hilliard, looks forward to working with athletes and coaches in the coming months to improve on this result before the Olympics Games get underway in 341 days.
“I am satisfied with the team’s performance. We return home with two silver medals, which is great. The brigade of younger athletes that will take the athletics team through to Tokyo 2020 stepped up to the plate on the world stage, which is all I can ask for. The majority of this team improved the ranking that they came into the event with, too, and that’s a sign that when tested at a major the athletes can perform,” Hilliard said.
One of 207 competing IAAF member federations, the green and gold were ranked 18th overall, with medals won by Jared Tallent (Vic, 50km walk) and Fabrice Lapierre (NSW, long jump). The three top-eight performances to Dani Samuels (NSW, discus), Dane Bird-Smith (Qld, 20km walk) and Eleanor Patterson (Vic) were also outstanding.
Brandon Starc (NSW, high jump), who competed in the men’s high jump final tonight (details below) and Anneliese Rubie (NSW, 400m) improved on their personal best at the championships, with twelve athletes achieving a qualifying standard for the Olympic Games. This brings to 29 the number of athletes on this Australian Flame team who have at least one qualifier for Rio 2016 to date.
“Jared Tallent is a true champion of athletics and his medal winning result here was outstanding. To see Fabrice return to the form that we all knew he was capable of is a big positive as we lead into an Olympic year,” Hilliard added.
“Eleanor Patterson handled herself brilliantly in the high jump final and Dane Bird-Smith in the race walk is someone that you could now describe as a medal chance for Rio. Add to that athletes like Michelle Jenneke, Joel Baden, Brandon Starc and Brooke Stratton and this team has a solid base to build our future upon.
“Some athletes missed their opportunity here and could not reproduce the form they were selected on. These athletes are understandably disappointed, and this will be addressed with them as part of our championship review to ensure that we arrive at Rio 2016 with solutions to the challenges they encountered.
“The Olympic champion Sally Pearson, as well as other reliable starters Alex Rowe, Zoe Buckman, Michael Shelley, Jess Trengove and Jeff Riseley will be back in 2016, as will a fit and healthy Kim Mickle. This gives me confidence that we can do well on the grandest stage of all.”
On the final night of competition in the Bird’s Nest, Eloise Wellings (NSW) and Starc flew the Australian flag, competing in the final of the women’s 5000m and the men’s high jump.
Clocking a season best time of 15:09.62, Wellings’ run for 10th was a season best and a qualifying mark for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Her placing is the best ever result by an Australian in the event at the IAAF World Championships, with her time almost ten seconds quicker than that of any other green and gold starter in world titles history.
Sailing over 2.25m on his third and final attempt, Starc placed 12th in the final of the men’s high jump. Starc is the first finalist in the men’s high jump since Tim Forsyth in 1997, with his personal best leap of 2.31m moving him to second on the Australian All-Time List.
Competition tonight followed the women’s marathon on the streets of Beijing (CHN) this morning. The Australian Flame were represented by Sinead Diver (Vic), Sarah Klein (Vic) and Julia Degan (NSW), with Diver clocking 2:36.58 to be the best placed green and gold charge in 21st. Klein crossed 23rd in 2:37:58, while Degan battled cramp in the closing stages to finish 46th in a time of 2:49.26.
For more information on the now concluded IAAF World Championships, including results, please click here to visit iaaf.org.
For more information on the Australian Flame please click here to visit athletics.com.au.
Athletics Australia would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the four Australian Athletics Officials who have worked tirelessly during the IAAF World Championships.
Thanks for your amazing contribution to nine outstanding days of athletics - the athletes could not do what they do best without you!
Well done Bill Bailey (QLD), Janet Nixon (NSW), Zoe Eastwood-Bryson (SA) & Peter Hamilton (QLD).