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Could Australia’s 800m and 1500m record holders miss Olympic selection?

If the team were picked today it would be likely, even though their marks were all set within the last 12 months.

If the team were picked today it would be likely, even though their marks were all set within the last 12 months.

Cover image of Joseph Deng racing at the 2023 World Championships. Photo thanks to Fred Etter.

It’s a reflection of the unprecedented level of depth in Australian middle distance running across the men’s and women’s 800m and 1500m.

None of the national record holders have yet secured their selection. Over 800m Joseph Deng (1:43.99) and Catriona Bisset (1:57.78) will be challenging for positions, while Olli Hoare (3:29.41) and Linden Hall (3:56.92) will do likewise over 1500m.

Of course, there’s still five weeks until the qualifying period closes for the Olympics, after which Athletics Australia’s selectors will exercise their discretion on who to pick. Three athletes can be selected in each event, so long as they either reach the qualifying standard or gain enough World Athletics ranking points to finish within the quota for the desired size of the field.

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And the situation could change further after tomorrow’s Prefontaine Classic, where many of Australia’s top athletes will line up.

Photo by Fred Etter

Men’s 800m

In the men’s 800m Olympic finalist Peter Bol is already selected, with national champion Luke Boyes safely within the quota qualifying positions and looking set for selection after a breakthrough Australian season. Also currently marginally within the quota – but not in a safe position – is prodigiously talented junior Peyton Craig. He’s lowered the national U20 record down to 1:45.41 and has been a consistent performer during the domestic season, with three wins and a second in the top meets of the season before taking bronze at Nationals behind Boyes and Bol.

Deng’s most recent race occurred when his domestic season ended in February with a 1:17.06 second place in a 600m against 400m runner Ian Halpin, which is roughly the split time needed to run the 800m national record. Deng started the season in late January with a third placed 3:43.00 1500m at the ACT Championships, before finishing 8th over 800m at the Adelaide Invitational, over 4 seconds behind Craig in 1:49.46.

Olli Hoare in action in the heats of the 2024 Australian Championships. Photo by Fred Etter

Men’s 1500m

Over 1500m Olli Hoare returned to the track at the Australian Championships in his first race after injury following his setting of the national record at the Bislett Games in Oslo last June. He raced exceptionally for second behind Adam Spencer. However, Hoare is not currently eligible to be selected, having not reached the qualifying standard within the qualifying period, and only having four performances on the board, compared to the five needed to have a World Ranking.

One would expect that to change, either running under the 3:33.50 qualifier (or 3:50.40 over a mile) or with one more race for the ranking. He has been just short in his two most recent races, but has a prime opportunity to qualify in Sunday’s Bowerman Mile at the Prefontaine Classic. Even if he misses the mark, he’ll record a fifth performance that generates a World Ranking, and one that would likely be within the quota for qualifying.

Even with the qualifier, the 1500m has amazing depth with three other qualifiers in Stewart McSweyn (3:31.42) – who now is also qualified in the 5000m, national champion Adam Spencer (3:31.81) and junior phenomenon Cameron Myers (3:33.26). Further, national bronze medallist Jesse Hunt and sixth placed Jack Anstey have been just outside the qualifying mark over the 1500m and mile respectively, and would be stronger contenders for at least a quota qualifying position.

Adam Spencer winning the 2024 Australian Championships. Photo by Casey Sims courtesy of Athletics Australia.

Spencer would seem to be the only athlete virtually gauranteed of selection, with only the fact that the US college based athlete didn’t support Athletics Australia’s Track Classic meets preventing AA’s selectors for picking him straight after his Nationals victory. However, the 22-year-old sees things differently.

“I don’t think its in Athletics Australia’s best interest to pick the team in April when the Olympics is in July,” Spencer said after his race.

“It’s such a long way out and so much can happen between now and then.

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“Of course, I would love to be picked now, it would be great. But all of the other countries pick their team a couple of weeks before and the guys who are running well then are the guys you should really pick.”

Catriona Bisset leads the field at the bell in the 2024 Australian Championships. Photo by Fred Etter.

Women’s 800m

In the women’s 800m Cationa Bisset is in a fight for the final position in the team after junior star Claudia Hollingsworth and Australia’s best allround 800m/1500m runner, Abbey Caldwell, were chosen by the selectors after their 1-2 finish at the Australian Championships.

Also qualified is Bendere Oboya, who took bronze at Nationals ahead of Bisset’s fourth place. Oboya is an exciting talent stepping up from the 400m, with the 24-year-old’s 51.21s 400m speed showing she has the potential to be truly world class at the event, particularly as she develops her aerobic abilities under coach Craig Mottram. Her speed is still there, as a member of Australia’s 4x400m relay team that participated at the World Relay Championships. That team didn’t secure selection and needs to improve by 0.8 seconds to secure a place for Paris.

On the side of 30-year-old Bisset is that she has a personal best over a second faster than Oboya, as well as the experience of contesting three World Championships and an Olympics, reaching the semi-finals twice. She also made the semi-finals of this year’s World Indoor Championships, having been fifth in the 2022 edition of the event.

Form of each athlete in the lead up to the close of the selection period will likely be the factor that determines who gets the nod. Bisset was just outside breaking 2 minutes in her last race and goes again at the Prefontaine Classic, while Oboya hasn’t raced over two laps since the close of the domestic season, but did run in the Australian 4x400m team at the World Relay Championships.

Linden Hall leading the field in the 1500m at the 2024 Australian Championships. Photo by Fred Etter.

Women’s 1500m

In the women’s 1500m there’s still two places available, with Jess Hull selected after her victory at Nationals. There’s four other athletes qualified – Linden Hall the fastest courtesy of her national record of 3:56.92 in September last year – but Georgia Griffith (who beat her at Nationals) and Sarah Billings (who was one place behind) both beat her recently in the Xiamen Diamond League meet, where they ran their qualifying times of 3:59.04 and 3:59.59 respectively. Hall ran a season’s best of 4:00.71 in the same race.

Also qualified is Abbey Caldwell, who didn’t run a 1500m race during the domestic season and has the fifth fastest PB of the qualified athletes. There’s also the prospect that Claudia Hollingsworth qualifies when she nest runs a 1500m, having fallen less than half a second short of the qualifier during the domestic season.

However there’s a lot that could still occur, including Griffith and Billings improving further. Griffith’s qualifying run was only her second 1500m of the season and came off the back of her #2 Australian all-time 3000m run of 8:37.85 at the Sydney Track Classic, while Billings closed her 1500m qualifier in a sensational 59.4 second final lap in a race where she slashed 7 seconds from her personal best, suggesting that there could be an even bigger breakthrough in attacking future races with the confidence that she is a sub-4 minute 1500m runner.

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Since then Billings has defeated Griffith head-to-head in Tokyo. Hall will race at the Prefontaine Classic against Hull, with Caldwell originally in the field but withdrawing due to illness.

How will the decision be made?

Selections are made by Athletics Australia’s selectors, who have the broadest of possible discretions. There’s items that must be considered, along with a catch-all that allows anything to be considered.

In determining which Athletes (if any) to nominate under Final Nomination, the AA Selection Committee will consider the following factors in no particular order of priority:

(i) an Athlete’s ability to meet the objective in clause 2.3 for their specified event(s);

[Clause 2.3: The objective of this Nomination Criteria is to nominate the athletes to the AOC for selection to the Team who the AA Selection Committee considers have the greatest potential to win a medal or finish in the top eight in their event(s) at the Games.]

(ii) whether an Athlete has obtained a quota place for any event under the Qualification System;

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(iii) an Athlete’s ability to demonstrate high-level performance throughout the Qualification Period;

(iv) an Athlete’s ability during the Qualification Period to plan their performances to peak at a major championship;

(v) an Athlete’s participation at the 2024 Australian Track and Field Championships and the National Federation’s Summer Series in their relevant event(s). The aforementioned events should form a significant part of an Athlete’s competition plans;

(vi) an Athlete’s ability to contribute to any qualified Australian relay team in the 4x100m, 4x400m or the Marathon Race Walk Mixed Relay events.

(viii) any factor, or combination of factors that the AA Selection Committee, in consultation with the National Federation General Manger – High Performance, considers relevant.


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Athletes who, when given international opportunities, repeatedly fail to meet or exceed the performance standard required to achieve a quota place for the relevant event, will not necessarily be nominated even if they have achieved the requirements of the Qualification System.

In summary

Time, and times, will tell on who will make the team for Paris. There’s the chance that those who are the fastest ever Australian in their event won’t be there.

Read more about how all of Australia’s athletes are tracking towards Olympic selection in our fortnightly updated article La Route de Paris.

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