Melbourne has been named the host of the Maurie Plant Meet 2023. (Photo: Athletics Australia)

The stars of Australian athletics will compete against the best athletes in the world as Melbourne has been unveiled to host Oceania’s first-ever World Athletics gold medal meet.

The Maurie Plant Meet is ensured to become the highest-profile annual track and field event in the Southern Hemisphere as the best athletes worldwide will compete against one another.

Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer Peter Bromley spoke at the announcement of Oceania’s first gold medal event meet. Bromley believes the meet will further Melbourne’s quest to become a competition venue for years to come.

“The Maurie Plant Meet will bring excitement, passion and pure talent to Melbourne and best of all, we will be able to showcase all that Australian athletics has to offer,” Bromley said.

“Australian athletics has been going through a resurgence with our stars shining on the world stage, and we believe there is no better time than now to bring a gold-level meet to Australia.”

Maurie Plant (Right) passed away in 2020. (Photo: Oceania Athletics Association)

Previously known as the Melbourne Track Classic, the event has been upgraded and reimagined as the Maurie Plant Meet. The meet will be a part of the Continental Tour gold series on the World Athletics Continental Tour calendar, which sits just under the status of Diamond League.

The meet is named after Maurie Plant, who was an influential figure in the lead-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Plant created relationships with international athletes, contributed to the golden era of the sport, and was instrumental to various well-known Australian athletes, like Cathy Freeman and Sally Pearson.

“It would be a natural choice to name the gold level meet after the man, Maurie Plant, who means so much to not only the community of track and field but who was a major player in the success of many champions of the world,” Cathy Freeman said about her mentor.

“I was so pleased to hear that Maurie would be honoured in this way as he was a man who also meant so much to my success.”

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Stewart McSweyn, the Australian record holder and Olympic finalist in the 1500m event, continued the praise of choosing Plant.

“It will be an absolute privilege to compete in a meet named in Maurie’s honour. He was such a positive, influential person for so many Australian athletes, particularly when travelling in Europe,” McSweyn said.

“I will never forget the times we shared, and I will always want to run in his meet.”

The Maurie Plant Meet will be held on Thursday, February 23 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm AEDT at Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park, Victoria.

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