Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


‘Race by race’: Claudia Hollingsworth’s path to the Olympics

Claudia Hollingsworth is a prodigious talent with a level head.

Claudia Hollingsworth is a prodigious talent with a level head.

Cover image by Fred Etter. Footage courtesy of Athletics Australia.

The 19-year-old celebrated her birthday during the Australian Championships, where she broke her own Australian junior record and moved to second on the Australian all-time list with her winning time of 1:58.40.

It wasn’t just the time, but the class of the competition and the manner of victory, that was most impressive: her running form seemingly unaffected by lactic fatigue down the home straight, the Craig Mottram coached athlete pulled away from one of the nation’s top racers, Abbey Caldwell, and left national record holder Catriona Bisset in her wake.

“I had no idea what the result was going to be, I just came in feeling really nervous,” Hollingsworth said.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“But Craig just said ‘relax and at the end of the day, really enjoy it and have fun’ and that is what I tried to do.

“I felt the pressure on my shoulders but it is definitely a huge weight off now.”

Photo by Fred Etter

Hollingsworth has always been a standout talent, in 2021 running 2:01.60 for 800m and 2:36.72 over 1000m. That 800m mark, along with a 4:07.69 1500m, were her personal bests at the beginning of the season and the thoughts of an Olympic Games would have been considered by many to be a long shot, given the current middle distance depth in Australian athletics.

“I think it’s everyone’s dream, so as soon as the Olympic year rolls around everyone gets the thought in their brain,” Hollingsworth said.

“I mean, I never like to look too far ahead and just take things race by race, which I think really helped me not get too far ahead of myself. But it’s definitely been in the back of my mind for sure.”

Hollingsworth is seemingly improving with each run as her season progression shows:

  • 2 December: 3000m (junior race) at Zatopek – 1st in 9:29.13
  • 10 February: 1500m at Adelaide Invitational – 1st in 4:04.45 (Australian U20 record)
  • 15 February: 800m at Maurie Plant Meet Melbourne – 1st in 1:59.81 (Australian U20 record)
  • 2 March: 800m at Canberra Track Classic – 1st in 1:58.81 (Olympic qualifier and Australian U20 record)
  • 4 April: 1500m at Box Hill Classic – 1st in 4:02.96 (Australian U20 record)
  • 12 April: 800m heat at Australian Championships – 1st in 2:06.72
  • 14 April: 800m final at Australian Championships – 1st in 1:58.40 (Olympic qualifier, Australian U20 record, #2 Australian all-time)

Claudia Hollingsworth crosses the line for victory in the 800m at the Australian Championships. Photo by Casey Sims courtesy of Athletics Australia.

Hollingsworth only raced the 800m at the Australian Championships, bypassing the 1500m. She was just short of the Olympic qualifying standard of 4:02.50 at the Box Hill Classic and wants to explore chasing the standard.

“I think I’ll definitely have a crack. I just want to get into a good race that has some really strong girls in it, and try to get pulled through to a quick time.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“I’m not sure what I can run yet and I still want to give it a go.”

With her performance at the Australian Championships Hollingsworth was named in the initial 14 athletes to be selected in the Australian Olympic team for Paris.