The spears are set to soar at the Canberra Track Classic this Saturday 7 February as Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) and London 2012 finalist Kathryn Mitchell (Vic) kick-off their Australian Athletics Tour campaigns.
One of the strongest events on the timetable in the nation’s capital, the women’s javelin also boasts Chinese athletes Huihui Lu and Lingwei Li, who with personal bests beyond 65 metres bring to four the number of athletes who have thrown further than the IAAF World Championships qualifying mark for Beijing 2015.
Roberts will start after dusting off the cobwebs at an Athletics ACT Summer Series event last weekend, with her throw of 57.85m in round four more than enough to take out the victory. Her start at the Canberra Track Classic is the first of many this domestic season, with plans to compete in Perth (WA) and Adelaide (SA) ahead of the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge and the Australian Athletics Championships.
“I was very happy with the competition Friday night. I was able to build through my series and my best throw came from my last attempt. Competing then was really a practice run in preparation for the Canberra Track Classic. I was able to fine tune some specific competition detailing and expose myself to the competition environment again, which I love and really thrive off,” Roberts said.
“The World Championships in Beijing are definitely the goal for 2015. I want to throw the qualifier of 61 metres as early as possible during the domestic season and then start preparing for my first European season late in June or at the start of July. I want to finish top-eight in Beijing, and secure what will hopefully be an automatic spot for Rio.”
The Commonwealth Games experience in 2014 is what’s driving Roberts toward more this season, with the Hampden Park atmosphere and bronze medal providing a positive taste of international competition she plans to keep enjoying.
“Other than the medal in Glasgow, representing my country on the international stage was amazing. The atmosphere and the crowd was something I had not previously experienced and I have to say it was fabulous,” Roberts added.
“Standing in the middle of the field felt so surreal, and I can’t explain how enjoyable the experience was. I’ve come away from the event with more experience and more confidence, as well as a well-rehearsed competition strategy that will help in the years to come. I am so motivated to get back to an event like that and do it all again.”
Closing out 2014 with a new career best of 66.10m and podium finishes at two IAAF Diamond League events, Mitchell looks forward to returning to the competition arena after a long phase of training.
“It’s always hard to know what to expect from the first meet. I just want to concentrate on what we have been working on in training. I have no expectation on distance at the moment, as we are not preparing especially for competition at this time, but it would be nice to get a qualifier out of the way. It’ll just be nice to have a throw really,” Mitchell said.
“It is a long season this year, with the World Championships so late in August. I am going to throw the full domestic season and after Nationals start the specific preparation I need for Beijing. I will be in China in April with my coach Uwe and the rest of his squad, before Europe and the Diamond League to get ready for the major.
As her current training partners, Mitchell knows very well the form of Lu and Li and she is keen to see them test the talented pool of Australian athletes on our home soil this Australian Athletics Tour.
“The Chinese national team are here for a training camp across three months, with Uwe leading their programming and training. Both the girls have thrown 65 plus metres and they can absolutely challenge us this season. They’ve been to the World Championships and Olympic Games and know how it is done, so it’s good to have them here,” Mitchell added.
The javelin throwing duo will be joined on throws entry lists by Paralympic medallist Kath Proudfoot (ACT) competing in the women’s shot put, and hammer throwers Huw Peacock (Tas) and Matthew Denny (Qld).
Proudfoot won the para-athletics shot put at the Hunter Track Classic in Newcastle (NSW) this past weekend, while Peacock, who donned the green and gold at the Commonwealth Games, will be keen to move back to the top of the podium after Denny won their opening duel at the Briggs Athletics Classic by less than a metre.
The Canberra Track Classic is the third leg of the Australian Athletics Tour, with future competition scheduled for Perth (WA), Adelaide (SA), Brisbane (Qld), Sydney (NSW) and Melbourne (Vic). The 93rd Australian Athletics Championships will close out the domestic season on the last weekend in March.
The meet will also welcome the first head-to-head duel of Sally Pearson (Qld) and Melissa Breen (ACT) in the women’s 100m this Australian Athletics Tour, Commonwealth Games finalist Michelle Jenneke (NSW) in the women’s 100m hurdles, national record holder Alex Rowe (Vic) in the men’s 800m and IPC Athletics World Championships gold medallists Scott Reardon (NSW) and Evan O’Hanlon (ACT).
Australia’s best distance runners are also set to descend on the ACT this weekend, as they prepare to compete at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship Selection Trial on Sunday 8 February. More details on this event are available here.