The summer of athletics is upon us and anticipation ahead of the Australian All Schools Championships and Zatopek:10 in Melbourne (Vic) this weekend has reached fever pitch.
Entry lists for the All Schools confirm the start of more than 1100 athletes in both able-bodied and para-athletics events, headlined by Australian under 18 100m record holder Jack Hale(Tas, long jump, 100m), IAAF World Youth Championships medallists Darcy Roper (Qld, long jump) and Samantha Peace (NSW, discus throw), Commonwealth Youth Games champion Amy Harding-Delooze (NSW, 800m, 1500m) and Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships starters Jaryd Clifford (Vic, 3000m) and Erin Cleaver (NSW, para-athletics 100m, long jump).
At the Zatopek:10, both Eloise Wellings (NSW) and Brett Robinson (Vic) are on the hunt for back-to-back success in the Australian 10,000m Championships, with victory in a qualifying time all but ensuring their automatic nomination for selection to the Australian Olympic Team for Rio 2016.
Hale set the athletics world alight at the Australian All Schools Championships in 2014, clocking a wind assisted 10.13 (w: +3.4) to win gold in the 100m before going on to also take victory in the 200m. In 2015, the 17-year-old has added the long jump to his timetable of events, with recent results delivering him qualifying performances for the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships.
“I’m really looking forward to the All Schools this week. Last year was such a great buzz, with all the hype around the 100m, and I can’t wait to get out there again,” Hale said.
“My recent form has been good. At my home All Schools in Tasmania I ran a 10.43 in the 100m and jumped 7.65m in the long jump so I am happy with my preparation. All going well, I should be close to a personal best and if I can do that then it’s been a successful weekend.”
Hale will duel with Roper in both the 100m and long jump at the Australian All Schools Championships, as well as Lachlan McDermott (WA) in the sprints.
Roper won long jump silver at the IAAF World Youth Championships earlier this year, soaring to an Australian under 18 record of 8.01m (w: +0.5) in Cali (COL) to ensure his position on the dais. At the Queensland All School Championships last month, he reigned supreme in the 100m in a time of 10.93 (w: -1.0) before adding a second gold medal to his personal medal tally with a 7.49m (w: +0.4) leap in the long jump.
McDermott donned the green and gold of Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Games, advancing to the semi-final, before running a new career best of 10.81 (w: +0.1) at an interclub event in Perth (WA) last month.
Peace won bronze in the discus throw at Cali 2015 earlier this year, with her personal best throw of 50.59m achieved at the championships.
Looking to improve on the silver medal she won at the Australian All Schools Championships in 2014, she will need to contend with Samantha Lenton (Qld), who has qualified for the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships, and Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist Bianca Hansen (Vic) before claiming victory.
The winner of both the 800m and 1500m at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia (SAM) in September, Harding-Delooze will be tough to beat in the middle distance events this weekend.
Boasting personal bests of 2:06.84 and 4:18.02 respectively, the 17-year-old will be joined on the start line by her twin sister Lily Harding-Delooze (NSW), as well as Athletics Australia Under 17 Development Squad members Maddison Caulfield (Vic) and Georgia Evans (NSW) and Cali 2015 starter Olivia Burdon (NZL).
In para-athletics events, both Clifford and Cleaver will start after making their Australian Flame debut at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha (QAT) in October.
Clifford, who is visually impaired, will start in the able-bodied 3000m event, while Cleaver, who has cerebral palsy, will duel in the para-athletics long jump and 100m with the national title in her sights.
For more information, including entry lists and a complete timetable, please follow this link.
Ensuring a bumper weekend of athletics, the Australian All Schools Championships will be held alongside the Zatopek:10.
A celebration of athletics hosted by Athletics Victoria, the timetable for the event on Saturday 5 December features the Australian 10,000m championship for men and women, which double as the nomination trial for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
For more information on the Zatopek:10, including entry lists and the event timetable, please click here.