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7 athletes to keep an eye on at Nationals

Scanning the entry lists for Nationals there’s a few athletes who fly under the radar.

Scanning the entry lists for Nationals there’s a few athletes who fly under the radar.

Cover image of Steven Solomon winning the 2011 Australian Championships. Photo by Tim McGrath.

Steven Solomon

Steven Solomon won his first national title way back in 2011 as an 18-year-old when Melbourne’s Olympic Park was still an athletics venue. A year later he made the final of the London Olympics. The 44.97s he ran there remained his personal best for almost a decade before he bettered it at the Tokyo Olympics with a run of 44.94s.

The 30-year-old has six national titles under his belt but hasn’t raced since the final of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. What shape is he in? Can he navigate through to the final and place on the podium?

Aleksandra Stoilova

Two years ago Aleksandra Stoilova was a member of the Australian junior 4x100m relay team that made the final of the World U20 Championships. The 18-year-old has since commenced college at Clemson University where she has progressed dramatically, including recent personal bests of 11.36s and a 11.15s wind assisted run (+2.5).

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With a chance to break into the national open relay squad and eligible to contest this year’s World U20 Championships, Stoilova will contest the open and U20 100m events in Adelaide.

Jessica Milat

Jessica Milat on her way to winning the Victorian Open 100m title. Photo by Tim McGrath.

Jessica Milat will be Stoilova’s main competition in the U20 100m and the favourite for the U20 200m. Although she won’t contest the Open events she could well have been competitive, with a 11.37s personal best last week in Melbourne and a 23.26s 200m PB set last season in winning the national U20 title.

With Torrie Lewis also age eligible for the World U20 Championships Stoilova and Milat are set to battle over the second place available to represent Australia.

Celeste Mucci

Celeste Mucci competing at the 2023 World Championships. Photo by Fred Etter.

It looked as if Celeste Mucci’s season may have been over when she crashed to the track at the ACT Championships in January. The diagnosis: a pulled hamstring with tendon damage.

The 24-year-old has returned to training in recent weeks and will line up looking for a medal and the accompanying ranking points that come with the Australian Championships, in order to build her world ranking towards an Olympic qualifying place.

Morgan McDonald

Morgan McDonald in action at last year’s World Championships in Budapest. Photo by Fred Etter.

27-year-old Morgan McDonald hasn’t raced in Australia since the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. The US based athlete snuck into last year’s World Championships team after coming back from injury and then recorded a credible 7th place in the 5km race at the World Road Running Championships in October.

Since then he’s raced twice indoors with a 13:07.30 5000m run in January and an 8:12.01 2-mile (7:39.70 3000m en route) in February. He’ll be one of the athletes to beat in a field that also includes his training partner, Olli Hoare, Ky Robinson (13:06 indoors this season), Stewart McSwyen and Australian 10000m record holder Jack Rayner.

Ash Moloney

Ash Moloney competing in the 100m of the Decathlon at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Photo by Fred Etter.

After breaking through for an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo decathlete Ash Moloney has had a tough time on the track, finishing only one of the six Decathlons he’s started. However the 24-year-old contested 7 events at last month’s Queensland Championships, including running a 10.62s 100m.

Lining up against fellow Queenslanders Cedric Dubler and Daniel Golubovic there’s important ranking points on the line for Moloney to attempt to qualify for the Paris Games.

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Alanah Yukich

US based Alanah Yukich, 26, has quitely improved her 400m personal best down to 52.53s and 400m hurdles best to 56.95s last month. She’s entered in both events in Adelaide and is a strong contender for a medal in both, as well as seeking a 4x400m relay berth.