David Rudisha will headline the international charge at the upcoming IAAF Melbourne World Challenge and Perth Track Classic.
The world 800m record holder, Olympic champion and current world champion, Rudisha’s start ensures that the 27-year-will compete in the middle-distance-mad Melbourne for a fifth time, while his confirmed entry in Perth (WA) will mark his first appearance in the West.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Australia, it has played such an important part in my program over the years and as I ready for the Olympic Games again I am keen to duplicate the build-up that worked in 2012,” Rudisha said.
“Perth is somewhere that I haven’t competed before and I always look forward to running in a new city. I hear that the conditions are normally warm and that the track is fast so I am happy to have the chance to run there. It’s the closest city to Kenya, too, so that’s an added bonus!
“Australia has some great 800m runners who are still looking to qualify for Rio. I’m sure we will have a good race and if I can assist in improving the qualifying opportunities for some of the younger runners then I am happy.”
One of the most successful athletes in history, Rudisha’s resume also boasts a Commonwealth Games silver medal, two gold medals from the African Athletics Championships and 17 victories as part of the IAAF Diamond League.
He will provide ideal pace for Australia’s best 800m runners, including Jeff Riseley, Alex Rowe and Josh Ralph, as well as upcoming charge Luke Mathews, as the quartet duel for line honours and to beat the 1:46.00 qualifying time for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Set to join Rudisha as prominent international starters are Tom Walsh, James Magut, Kaliese Spencer and Christine Day.
A shot putter, Walsh will join rising green and gold star Damien Birkinhead in the circle at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge. He is the 2014 Commonwealth and IAAF World Indoor Championships silver medallist.
The duo most recently competed in Christchurch (NZL) last week. Walsh threw 20.83m to win that duel, with Birkinhead achieving a then personal best of 20.80m before a bigger 21.21m throw at the Briggs Athletics Classic this past weekend.
“New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup and I expect to continue the All Blacks success in the shot put at the World Challenge in Melbourne next month,” Walsh joked.
“It’s fantastic that Damien has stepped up his throwing this year. I can see a great battle developing between us friendly rivals across the ditch. I’m hoping that we’ll push each other at the Melbourne meet, I am keen to win there again and nudge that area record out a little further,” Walsh said.
Magut is the Commonwealth 1500m champion, boasting a personal best of 3:30.61 in the men’s 1500m. He will run in both Melbourne and Perth to deliver a start in Australia for a second consecutive year, after taking line honours at the Sydney Track Classic and IAAF Melbourne World Challenge in 2014.
Spencer won gold in the 400m hurdles at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, with her international resume also including a 400m silver medal from the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships and the 4x400m relay at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin (GER). She has a personal best of 52.19 (400mH) to provide the ideal competition for eight-time national champion Lauren Wells.
The women’s 400m is one of the most hotly contested events on the Australian Athletics Tour. Morgan Mitchell and Anneliese Rubie are both Rio 2016 qualified in the individual event and the women’s 4x400m relay team already on their way to the Olympic Games,.
Day will start in the one-lap race in Melbourne with a personal best of 50.14 and a trophy cabinet that includes a relay gold medal from the 2015 IAAF World Championships and 2014 Commonwealth Games, as well as bronze in the 4x400m relay at London 2012.