At the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre, 15 young Australian track and field athletes stood around the warm up track.
They had bright smiles, and embraced as they recognised one another.
One by one, they tried on a green polo and a yellow jacket, in advance of their announcement in the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic team.
For nine of them, it was the first time they’ll be making the trip to the Olympics.
Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman welcomed them to the team.
“Athletics is expected to be our biggest single sporting team in Tokyo and it’s fantastic to see the quality of athletes coming through,” Chesterman said.
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Darren Gocher, CEO of Athletics Australia, also congratulated them.
“The naming of athletes on the Australian Olympic Athletics Team for Tokyo is an incredible exciting milestone for Olympic veterans and debutants alike, and we’re particularly excited to see what this group of athletes can achieve,” he said.
“We’ve witnessed some outstanding performances at the Australian Track and Field Championships, this week. It is those performances that have shown the strength of athletics in Australia, and how worthy these athletes are of competing amongst the world’s best in Tokyo.”
The athletes named on Sunday for their first Olympic Games include:
Rohan Browning (100m sprint)
Nina Kennedy (Pole vault)
Ash Moloney (Decathlon)
Catriona Bisset (800m)
Bendere Oboya (400m)
Riley Day (200m)
Liz Clay (100m hurdles)
Jye Edwards (1500m)
Nicola McDermott (High jump)
Nicola McDermott (high jump), on her way to her debut games, became the first woman in Australia to clear 2.00m at the Australian Championships.
McDermott talked about how the events of the weekend were still sinking in.
“It’s such a dream,” she said.
“It hasn’t come to pass just how big this is, but this has been my dream for 16 years. To be training for it for the last 16 years, and to have it done in an Olympic year, with my friends and family, was just a dream come true.”
The returning Olympians include:
Linden Hall (1500m)
Kurtis Marschall (Pole vault)
Cedric Dubler (Decathlon)
Brooke Stratton (Long jump)
Genevieve Gregson (3000m steeplechase)
Dani Stevens (Discus)
Linden Hall spoke to The Inner Sanctum about the feeling sinking in.
“Today it’s sort of sinking in, and to be able to share it with all my teammates is really special,” she said.
“It’s nice to share it with everyone and have that camaraderie.”
The experienced heads in the team will be Genevieve Gregson (3000m steeplechase) returning for her third Olympic Games, and Dani Stevens (discus), who overcame a serious neck injury and spinal surgery 12 months ago, making her fourth appearance at the Olympics.
Stevens was reflective after the announcement.
“This was probably the hardest to make, and the one I’m most grateful for, and I can sit back and be really proud of the effort I made to get here, and to put myself in this position,” she said.
Stevens was also excited by the experienced athletes returning as part of the team.
“It’s really exciting that we have so many debutants, but also multiple Olympians,” she said.
“It’s exciting to have the depth in Athletics, and the quality of Athletics in Australia.”
These 15 athletes will join the five previously named, and the Athletics contingent is expected to gain further athletes in June when the final qualifying marks are announced.
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