Australia will take a 63-strong athletics squad to Tokyo, 37 of which will be competing in distance events on the track.
The squad contains a great variety of Olympic experiences that are evenly matched with Olympic debutants, many of whom could contend for medals at Tokyo.
The likes of Dane Bird-Smith in the men’s 20km race walk and Linden Hall in the women’s 1500m event – both at their second games – will be among those aiming to better their results at Rio, having achieved bronze and a semi-final placing respectively.
Stewart McSweyn in the men’s 1500m and Jemima Montag in the women’s 20km race walk will both be at their debut games and are firmly in the frame of medal contention in their respective events.
Australia will be well represented across the board, with representation in all distance events, and multiple representatives in many events.
The Inner Sanctum runs through the history, contenders and schedule of the distance events at the Tokyo games.
Australia won two medals in long-distance events at Rio, both of which came in race walking events. Jared Tallent in his third Games won silver in the men’s 50km race walk, while Dane Bird-Smith in his debut Olympic appearance collected Bronze in the men’s 20km race walk.
Genevieve Gregson, who will be at her third games and competing in the 3000m steeplechase, finished ninth in the event at Rio. Linden Hall at Tokyo will be looking to advance on her semi-final finish in the women’s 1500m, which she achieved at her debut games.
Great Britain’s Mo Farah claimed Gold in both the men’s 5000 and 10000m races at Rio, while Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto set an Olympic record to claim Gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8:03. Another Kenyan in Eliud Kipchoge won gold in the men’s marathon at Rio.
Kenya collected plenty of medals in the women’s long-distance events also. In the 1500m event, Faith Kipyegon won gold, while in the 5000m Vivian Cheruiyot also set a new Olympic record to win gold.
Jemima Sumgong won Kenya’s third gold medal at Rio, finishing nine seconds ahead of silver. Kenya also claimed three silver medals and one bronze at Rio, so will have plenty of athletes to watch at Tokyo.
Stewart McSweyn (AUS) – Men’s 1500m
Since September 2020, McSweyn has broken the Australian men’s 1500m record twice, most recently eclipsing his previous mark just thirteen days from the beginning of the Tokyo games.
McSweyn ran a 3:29.51 at the Diamond League Meet in Monaco, becoming the first Australian to eclipse the 3:30 mark over 1500m in the process.
With this scintillating recent form, he could be a red-hot gold medal chance at Tokyo and will undoubtedly be one for Aussies to get behind.
Jemima Montag (AUS) – Women’s 20km Race Walk
Montag is just 23 years of age and already has a Commonwealth Games gold medal to her name. During preparation for Tokyo, she broke the 90-minute mark for the 20km race walk, putting her in good stead for the competition that lies ahead at Tokyo.
Montag also has a top-10 World Championship finish under her belt – a time which she has since bettered considerably. In the frame for a medal at Tokyo, Montag will certainly be one Aussie fans will want to follow closely.
Letesenbet Gidey (ETH) – Women’s 10,000m
Gidey will represent Ethiopia in the women’s 10,000m event, in which she broke the world record at the start of June. Prior to the Ethiopian Olympic Trials – the event at which she achieved the record time of 29:06.82 – the record was held by her fellow Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, who achieved the feat in her gold-winning run at Rio.
Ethiopia certainly has a good recent medal history in the women’s distance running events, and Gidey could be the next Ethiopian 10,000m gold medallist when she takes to the track at Tokyo.
More Tokyo 2020 News
Distance Events Schedule
The Athletics action kicks off on the 30th of July, following the conclusion of the Swimming events.
The first day of the athletics competition in Tokyo will see the first round of the men’s 3000m steeplechase, and the first round of the women’s 800m and 5000m events.
The first medals in the distance events will also be up for grabs, with the men’s 10,000m final taking place in the evening.
Day two of the athletics competition will be headlined by the semi-finals of the women’s 800m event, while the first round of the men’s 800m will also take place.
Following on from the day prior, the men’s 800m semi-finals will be the key event on day three of the athletics competition. The women’s 3000m steeplechase event will also begin on this day, with the first round of competition to take place.
There will be two medal events on day four of competition, with athletes contending for gold in the final of the men’s 3000m steeplechase and the women’s 5000m event.
The day will also feature the first round of competition in the women’s 1500m.
Headlining day five will be the final of the women’s 800m event, with the first round of the men’s 1500m and 5000m events to take place as well.
The competition heats up on day six, with a semi-final and two finals happening on this day. Medals will be up for grabs in the final of the women’s 3000m steeplechase and the men’s 800m.
Also on day six will be the semi-finals of the women’s 1500m, which will decide who competes for Olympic gold later in the schedule.
Day seven will feature the final of the men’s 20km race walk, the event in which Dane Bird-Smith – who will be competing again at Tokyo – won Bronze at Rio.
The semi-finals of the men’s 1500m will also take place on day seven.
Day eight will feature four medal events, with the men’s 50km and women’s 20km race walking events among them.
The medallists will also be decided in the men’s 500m and women’s 1500m event when they take place in the evening.
Two of the women’s long-distance events will culminate in their respective finals on day nine, with the finals in the marathon and 10,000m events taking place.
Day nine will also see the medallists decided in the final of the men’s 1500m.
The athletics competition concludes on August 8 with the men’s marathon from 7 am local time, which will be the sole event on the day.
Australia’s Track (Distance) Team
|Liam Adams||Marathon||2nd (2016)|
|Dane Bird-Smith||20km Walk||2nd (Rio 2016, Bronze)|
|Jenny Blundell||5000m||2nd (2016)|
|Peter Bol||800m||2nd (2016)|
|Ben Buckingham||3000m Steeplechase||Debut|
|Amy Cashin||3000m Steeplechase||Debut|
|Rhydian Cowley||50km Walk||2nd (2016)|
|Cedric Dubler||Decathlon||2nd (Rio 2016)|
|Genevieve Gregson||3000m Steeplechase||3rd (Rio 2016, London 2012)|
|Linden Hall||1500m||2nd (2016)|
|Katie Hayward||20km Walk||Debut|
|Bec Henderson||20km Walk||Debut|
|Dave McNeill||5000m||3rd (2012,2016)|
|Morgan Mitchell||800m||2nd (2016)|
|Jemima Montag||20km Walk||Debut|
|Jeffrey Riseley||800m||4th (2008, 2012, 2016)|
|Brett Robinson||Marathon||2nd (2016)|
|Kyle Swan||20km Walk||Debut|
|Patrick Tiernan||5000m, 10,000m||2nd (2016)|
|Declan Tingay||20km Walk||Debut|
|Edward Trippas||3000m Steeplechase||Debut|
|Lisa Weightman||Marathon||4th (2008, 2012, 2016)|
|Georgia Winkcup||3000m Steeplechase||Debut|
It’s a jam-packed schedule for Australia’s distance athletes, the distance athletics competition at Tokyo beginning on July 30, and concluding on August 8.
All track events will take place at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, while the marathon and race walking events will take place in Sapporo Odori Park in Japan’s North.
A full schedule of Athletics events can be found here.
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