Last week the Australian team for the Oceania Championships was named. It's an important competition for Tokyo 2020 qualification.
Historically, the Oceania Championships have been a development competition for Pacific Island nations, with Australia usually fielding a team of athletes from remote areas. Given the stakes of Olympic qualification, it's now more important to us than that, and a near full-strength team has been named.
2012 Olympic Champion Sally Pearson headlines Australia's team to the Oceania Championships
For context, roughly half of the field in each event for Tokyo are expected to qualify through meeting the IAAF entry standards. These are tough marks, faster/higher/longer than ever before, which only need to be achieved once within the window of 1 May 2019 to 29 June 2020 for most events (*or from 1 January 2019 for 10000m, Marathon, Walks & Multis).
The other half or so entrants, up to a quota for each event, will be filled using the IAAF World Rankings. The Oceania Championships is a prime opportunity to score points to boost an athlete's World Rankings.
And in fact, for most events* it is the first opportunity for points. Held 25-28 June 2019 in Townsville, the competition falls outside the 12 month ranking Olympic ranking qualifying period that concludes 29 June 2020, but still counts for points by a special exemption the IAAF makes for Area Championships.
Additionally, the point decay that applies in the IAAF World Rankings to performances more than 9 months old does not apply to the Oceania Championships. That is, performances in competitions:
- Between 30 August and 29 September 2019 lose 20 points;
- Between 30 July and 29 August lose 40 points;
- Between 30 June and 29 July lose 60 points;
- Before 30 June 2019 doesn't count at all; except for
- The Oceania Championships (25-28 June), which retain their original value.
Photo by Casey Sims
Why are the Oceania Championships so valuable?
Firstly, in addition to the Performance Score an athlete achieves for the quality of their performance, the Placing Scores are 60 to 70 points higher than the corresponding points for winning Nationals:
Oceania Championships: 1st - 170 points, 2nd - 145 points, 3rd - 130 points.
Australian Championships: 1st - 100 points, 2nd - 80 points, 3rd - 70 points.
A 70 point margin, purely in performance terms, roughly equates to:
- 0.2s in the 100m;
- A full second over 400m;
- 5 seconds over 1500m;
- 30cm in the long jump; and
- 4 metres in the discus.
So an athlete would need to perform that amount better in winning the Australian Championships to earn the same points they could in winning the Oceania Championships.
Secondly, in terms of global athletics, the meet is weak. Not to disparage the importance of either meet to their core constituents, but the winning performances in the Oceania Championships are usually on par with the Tasmanian Championships in most events. It will not be uncommon for Australia to sweep the medals in an event.
The sprints are the event group where Oceania has the most competition, especially with Australian champion Edward Nketia entered in the New Zealand team for the event. Should he compete in the event he will be unable to represent Australia in the future in international competition and would take on Australia's best in Rohan Browning, Jack Hale and Trae Williams.
So for those Australians who might not be able to meet the IAAF entry standards, selection for the Oceania Championships gives a significant opportunity to stake a claim for points for IAAF Rankings compared to those who don't get a start. And for those that might meet the entry standards, Townsville's climate provides a great opportunity for a decent quality pre-departure hit out before travelling overseas to Europe, particularly given the World Championships in Doha are not held until October.
From the perspective of the IAAF Rankings qualification pathway, you might like to view the below selected athletes as an Olympic shadow squad of sorts:
Photo by Casey Sims
100m: Rohan Browning, Jack Hale, Trae Williams
200m: Alex Hartmann, Jake Doran, Zane Branco
400m: Steven Solomon, Alex Beck, Tyler Gunn
800m: Joshua Ralph, Mason Cohen, Jye Perrott
1500m: Rory Hunter, Matthew Ramsden
5000m: Liam Adams, Andrew Buchanan, Daniel Canala
10000m: Jack Rayner, Harry Summers, Brad Milosevic
110m hurdles: Nicholas Hough, Nicholas Andrews, Jacob McCorry
400m hurdles: Ian Dewhurst, Luke Major, Bryce Collins
3000m steeplechase: Max Stevens, Benjamin Buckingham, Matthew Clarke
High Jump: Joel Baden, Brandon Starc, Grant Szalek
Pole Vault: Angus Armstrong, Declan Carruthers, Stephen Clough
Long Jump: Henry Smith, Chris Mitrevski, Henry Frayne
Triple Jump: Alwyn Jones, Ayo Ore, Emmanuel Fakiye
Shot Put: Damien Birkinhead, Aiden Harvey, Matt Cowie
Discus: Matthew Denny, Mitch Cooper, Lachlan Page
Hammer: Costa Kousparis, Huw Peacock, Ned Weatherly
Javelin: Hamish Peacock, Liam O’Brien, Nash Lowis
Decathlon: Kyle Cranston, Cedric Dubler, Ashley Moloney
10km Walk: Dane Bird-Smith, Rhydian Cowley, Declan Tingay
Photo by Casey Sims
100m: Naa Anang, Maddison Coates, Riley Day
200m: Nana Owusu-Afriyie, Coates, Jacinta Beecher
400m: Bendere Oboya, Caitlin Jones
800m: Catriona Bisset, Georgia Griffith, Morgan Mitchell
1500m: Griffith, Bernadette Williams, Sarah Billings
5000m: Melissa Duncan, Paige Campbell, Tara Palm
10000m: Sinead Diver, Ellie Pashley, Emily Brichacek
100m hurdles: Celeste Mucci, Brianna Beahan, Sally Pearson
400m hurdles: Lauren Wells, Sarah Carli, Sara Klein
3000m steeplechase: Campbell, Stella Radford, Georgia Winkcup
High Jump: Alysha Burnett, Hannah Joye
Pole Vault: Lisa Campbell, Elizaveta Parnova, Nina Kennedy
Long Jump: Anang, Brooke Stratton, Jessie Harper
Triple Jump: Ellen Pettitt, Aliyah Johnson, Tierra Exum
Shot Put: Emma Berg, Taryn Gollshewsky, Louise Pearce
Discus: Gollshewsky, Kim Mulhall, Dani Stevens
Hammer: Alexandra Hully, Stephanie Ratcliffe, Kaysanne Hockey
Kelsey-Lee Barber, Mackenzie Little, Jess Bell
Heptathlon: Mucci, Burnett, Tori West
10km Walk: Katie Hayward, Jemima Montag, Rachael Tallent