The Maurie Plant Meet, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold level meet, has lured Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz Jnr down under from the United States. The three-time Olympian has also locked in a race on either side, kicking off his campaign in Adelaide next week and concluding in Sydney in March.
Joining compatriot and 100m world champion Fred Kerley in setting his sights on Australia, Centrowitz is committed to running the 800m at the Adelaide Invitational (February 11), the John Landy Mile at the Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne (February 23), and 3000m at the Sydney Track Classic (March 11).
The 33-year-old ran his way into athletics immortality at the Rio Olympic Games, winning 1500m gold in a time of 3:50.00 – the slowest Olympic winning time in the event since the 1932 Games in Los Angeles. The performance cemented Centrowitz’s legacy as a tactical genius, adding the ultimate crown to his esteemed resume.
Centrowitz’s Rio performance saw him dictate terms at the front of the field, an approach now adopted by Australian supremos and Olympic finalists Stewart McSweyn and Commonwealth champion, Oliver Hoare who will face up to the gold medallist in the coming weeks.
“Australia is easily one of my favourite places to train and race. I enjoyed my time there in 2018 and have been looking forward to returning ever since,” Centrowitz said.
“It’ll be a perfect atmosphere for me to kickstart my 2023 campaign and get back to competitive racing. Australian middle distance running is better than ever so I hope these blokes will take it easy on me down there.”
The versatile miler who owns a personal best of 3:49.26 and 3:30.40 for 1500m has forged a reputation as one of the bigtime performers in the sport, matched by his outgoing personality. Olympic title aside, Centrowitz is a World Athletics Indoor champion, Diamond League champion, World Championships silver and bronze medallist, and seven-time national champion of the USA.
His 2016 Olympic triumph witnessed him become the first American to win the metric mile since 1908 and he was subsequentially hailed a national hero, but Australians will have their own heroes to cheer for in each city.
In his second race since 2021 following on from knee surgery, Centrowitz will face off in Adelaide against the likes of rising stars Jye Perrott, Lachlan Raper, Luke Boyes and Jack Lunn, as well as New Zealand’s Brad Mathas and Malta’s Jared Micallef.
Competition will then heat up as Centrowitz travels to the Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold level meet – to take on Oliver Hoare, who will come to Melbourne fresh from the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Bathurst 2023. Joining the pair will be Kiwi Samuel Tanner who will make it a trio of stars locked in for the Mile in Melbourne, with the 3:31.34 athlete over 1500m entering fresh off a mile personal best of 3:54.56 last weekend.
Centrowitz’s final stop in Australia will be at the Sydney Track Classic where he will help raise the standard in the 3000m – a national championship race, where he will race Australian 10,000m record holder, Jack Rayner. Rayner has come up against his US rival over 5,000m only once before, famously beating the American in 2017 in one of his first outdoor races in the USA after winning gold in Rio.
Athletics Australia General Manager, High Performance, Andrew Faichney said the news of Centrowitz’s return to Australia was fantastic news for the sport as Australia’s athletes aim to continue their momentum following the Tokyo Olympics, Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the World Athletics Championships in Oregon last year.
“First Kerley, now Centrowitz; two quality athletes that will give our season a huge boost and Australia’s high performance athletes a bit of extra motivation to leave it all out on the track in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney,” Faichney said.
“Attracting top overseas talent to compete in Australia is also indicative of the growth of our sport and Australia matching the best in the world in athletics. Our athletes have been busy in the off season that’s just gone and we’re looking forward to seeing some world-class athletics in our backyard.”
Centrowitz arrives in Australia on Sunday and will settle into Melbourne’s running scene before travelling to Adelaide on Thursday.