Australian 10,000m champions will be crowned winners of the Ron Clarke Medal for the first time at the Zatopek:10 this Saturday 5 December.

Celebrating the contribution that the distance running great made to athletics in Australia and across the globe, the renaming of the national championship trophy has been confirmed by Athletics Australia as anticipation continues to build ahead of a men’s and women’s race that will double as the Olympic 10,000m nomination trial.

“Ron Clarke is an icon of athletics, and his contribution to the sport over the course of his extraordinary life was unrivalled. He is perhaps most famous for his outstanding achievements as a 10,000m runner and for this reason we have decided to rename the Australian championship trophy in his honour,” Phil Jones, Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer, said.

“Clarke’s career as a runner was remarkable. He broke the world record in the 5000m and 10,000m on multiple occasions, won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Games and a further four silver medals at the Commonwealth Games. Off the track he lit the cauldron at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and commendably served as Mayor of the Gold Coast during the period in which they were awarded the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“Athletics will forever be in the debt of Ron and we look forward to welcoming his family to Melbourne this weekend to see the inauguration of what will become a perpetual medal that forever remembers him.”

Determined to see their name etched into the history books as maiden winners of the Ron Clarke Medal are Eloise Wellings (NSW) and Brett Robinson (Vic).

A finalist in the women’s 5000m at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, Wellings will become the first woman in history to win back-to-back Australian 10,000m championships on two separate occasions if she reigns supreme in the women’s race.

The 33-year-old won the gold medal in 2009 and 2010, as well as last year, and will start after returning from a volunteering opportunity in Uganda and altitude training at Falls Creek (Vic) in recent weeks.

Charlotte Purdue (GBR) will be one of the international raiders in the mix for line honours. After limited racing in 2013 and 2014, the 24-year-old has returned to the road and track in 2015 and will line up with a personal best of 32:03.25 over 10,000 metres. The 2015 City2Sea winner Makda Haji (ETH) will be another.

Glasgow 2014 marathon starter Sarah Klein (Vic) will also start alongside pacemakers Melissa Duncan (Vic) and Genevieve LaCaze (Vic).

Robsinon will also ensure consecutive success in the national championship race if he is the first Australian past the post.

On the hunt for a time faster than 28:00.00 to ensure his automatic nomination for selection to the Australian Olympic Team for 2016, he will be challenged by London 2012 Olympian David McNeill (Vic) and Glasgow 2014 starters Liam Adams (Vic) and Harry Summers (NSW).

IAAF World Cross Country Championships representative, Mitchel Brown (Vic), will head into the national 10,000m with confidence after an impressive win at the Victorian 5000m championships last week.

Highlights off the track will be Australia’s leading women pole vaulter Alana Boyd (Qld) starting her summer season in the Steve Hooker Pole Vault challenge.

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