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Top 5 contests to look out for at the 2024 Australian Championships

Every National title is important but the contest to place on the podium will be highly contest in these events.

Every National title is important but the contest to place on the podium will be highly contest in these events.

Cover image of 2023 Australian 1500m final. Photo by Fred Etter.

Men’s 1500m

With 6 of the fastest 10 Australians all-time lining up for this race it will be one for the ages.

Stewart McSweyn is lightly raced this season with victory in the John Landy Mile at February’s Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne and a second place over 1000m at the Box Hill Burn last month his only performances this season. Photo by Fred Etter.

Already three Australians – Stewart McSweyn, Adam Spencer and Cameron Myers – have qualifying marks for the Olympic Games. Jesse Hunt is just shy of the standard over 1500m and Jack Anstey over the mile (indoors), without even contemplating the return to racing of Australian record holder Olli Hoare.

Cameron Myers leads the field in the 1500m at the Adelaide Invitational where he set a SA Athletics Stadium Track Record. Photo by Jeff Wray.

Myers has been in sensational form running the fastest 1500m by an Australian in Australia, but McSweyn had the better of him in their one head-to-head contest at the Maurie Plant Meet.

11 of the field have personal bests under 3 minutes 40 seconds, so making the final will be no mean feat. It also sets up an interesting dynamic in the race.

Will one of the qualified athletes win? Or will a dark horse emerge through the unpredictability of championship racing, and potentially cause selection mayhem. Title holder, Callum Davies, is in the field and has lowered his personal best to 3:35.14 this season.

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An astute racer, 49% of entrants in our Tipping Competition have picked Myers for the win, with the other 51% backing the field.

Likely/possible finalists and their PBs:

  • Olli Hoare – 3:29.41 (Australian Record)
  • Stewart McSweyn – 3:29.51 (#2 all-time)
  • Adam Spencer – 3:31.81 (#4 all-time)
  • Jye Edwards – 3:33.23 (#7 all-time)
  • Cameron Myers – 3:33.26 (#8 all-time and Australian U20 record holder)
  • Jesse Hunt – 3:33.64 (#10 all-time)
  • Peter Bol – 3:34.52 (#17 all-time)
  • Callum Davies – 3:35.14 (#20 all-time)
  • Connor Whitley – 3:36.19 (#26 all-time)
  • Jack Anstey – 3:36.52 (#32 all-time; 3:51.51 mile – #8 all-time)
  • Sam Blake – 3:38.42 (#54 all-time)
  • William Lewis – 3:39.39 (#68 all-time)

Women’s 1500m

There’s plot lines everywhere in the women’s 1500m but the same similarity to the men’s race – there’s too many world class athletes in the event in Australia for too few Olympic places.

Jessica Hull on her way to victory over 3000m at the Sydney Track Classic. Photo by Tim McGrath.

At the start of the season all expectations would have been the trio of national record holder Linden Hall, national title holder Jessica Hull and 800m/1500m double-threat Abbey Caldwell being a class above other contenders.

But the emergence of Claudia Hollingsworth over both 800m and 1500m (setting Australian junior records of 1:58.81 and 4:02.96 respectively) and the lightly raced Georgia Griffith moving to second all-time Australian over 3000m at the Sydney Track Classic (in her debut over the distance!) means that nothing is certain.

Hull is race fit following a fourth-place over 3000m at the world indoor championships, victory at the Sydney Track Classic and tuned up recently with an 800m PB of 2:03. Caldwell has raced mainly over 800m and is also a brilliant racer. And Hollingsworth has the fastest 800m of the season and has won all of her 1500m races this season, so could be poised for a further breakthrough.

According to entries in our Tipping Competition, Jess Hull is the hot favourite with 88% tipping her to win.

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The main contenders, their PBs and SBs:

  • Linden Hall – 3:56.92 – 4:05.81
  • Jessica Hull – 3:57.29 – 4:01.19 en route to mile
  • Abbey Caldwell – 3:59.79 – no mark (4:30.50 mile)
  • Georgia Griffith – 4:00.16 – no mark (8:37.85 3000m)
  • Claudia Hollingsworth – 4:02.96 (#7 all-time and Australian U20 record) – 4:02.96

Women’s 800m

The women’s 800m is just behind the 1500m in terms of absolute quality: four of the top five Australians all-time line up over two laps in Catriona Bisset (1:57.78), Abbey Caldwell (1:58.48), Claudia Hollingsworth (1:58.81) and Bendere Oboya (1:59.01).

Claudia Hollingsworth in action at the Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne, where she took victory breaking 2 minutes for the first time. Photo by Ben Levy.

The race dynamics will be fascinating. Oboya is the fastest one-lap runner in the field but has comparatively struggled leading off a fast pace or running off a slow one (such as the 63s first lap at the Albie Thomas mile). However, at the Canberra Track Classic she had the perfect tow from Claudia Hollingsworth, where both recorded their personal bests.

Bisset hasn’t cracked 2 minutes so far this season – something that used to be a rarity in Australian athletics but which is now becoming par for the course – but has been close on a number of occasions. She generally favours leading at a solid pace but has been susceptible to being outkicked, as occurred at the Sydney Track Classic when Caldwell took victory.

Abbey Caldwell leaving the rest of the field in her wake at the Adelaide Invitational. Photo by Jeff Wray.

Caldwell and Hollingsworth are the most versatile racers and both just have an ability to lift in races and win. At the Maurie Plant Meet it was Hollingsworth that took the spoils over Caldwell in their only head-to-head match up this season. In her season debut in Adelaide in February Caldwell decimated a strong field, and similarly made light work of kicking down to win the Australian Mile title at the Albie Thomas Mile a few weeks ago.

Also in the field are five other athletes with personal bests under 2:02, in Carley Thomas (1:59.95), Morgan Mitchell (2:00.06), Imogen Barrett (2:00.96), Hayley Kitching (2:01.17) and Lora Roff (2:01.67).

In our Tipping Competition 67.5% are backing Hollingsworth for victory over the rest of the field.

Women’s Javelin

Kelsey-Lee Barber in action at the Maurie Plant Meet Melbourne. Photo by Fred Etter.

Australia has three world class athletes all capable of making the Olympic final in dual world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber, world championship bronze medallist Mackenzie Little and evergreen Australian record holder Kathryn Mitchell. The form this season is the reverse with Mitchell 62.12m, Little 60.93m and Barber only 54.59m in her sole competition this year.

All three are big time performers and it will be a great contest. Only Little has the 64.00m Olympic qualifying standard but Mitchell already has amassed enough ranking points to be relatively confident of a quota place. Barber doesn’t have a ranking yet with only four performances on the board, but will be in a similar position to Mitchell assuming she places on the podium in Adelaide.

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Women’s Long Jump

Samantha Dale taking out the Long Jump at the Sydney Track Classic. Photo by Tim McGrath.

Samantha Dale won the 2022 national title before national record holder Brooke Buschkuehl claimed the title back last year. Dale starts as the nominal favourite in a close field.

Liz Hedding has leapt to a new personal best this season and has challenged for victory in each of her competitions this year. Buschkuehl has not produced the form she is looking for and disclosed mental health challenges via Instagram after the Sydney Track Classic, where she finished third.

Season rankings show it will be a close competition with less than 20 centimetres separating the top 5:

  • Samantha Dale 6.50m
  • Elizabeth Hedding 6.48m
  • Grace Brennan 6.42m
  • Brooke Buschkuehl 6.40m
  • Audrey Kyriacou 6.31m

Top 5 sure things

Our Tipping Competition asks entrants to pick whether the athlete with the top season’s best will win. The following – where the top athlete has a substantial gap to their next rival and have the benefit of multiple attempts as field events – have near universal backing:

  • Men’s Discus – Matt Denny – 100%
  • Women’s Pole Vault – Nina Kennedy – 99.6%
  • Men’s Pole Vault – Kurtis Marschall – 98.4%
  • Women’s Discus – Taryn Gollshewsky – 97.6%
  • Men’s Shot Put – Alexander Kolesnikoff 96.4%

Top 5 where season leading mark not tipped to win

  • Men’s 100m – Either Jacob Despard or Joshua Azzopardi – 16.3% (up against Rohan Browning and others)
  • Men’s 800m – Peyton Craig – 16.7% (up against Luke Boyes, Peter Bol and others)
  • Men’s Javelin – William White – 16.7% (up against top 5 ranked athletes separated by 60cm on season bests)
  • Women’s Heptathlon – Camryn Newton-Smith – 17.5% (up against Tori West, Tanielle Crase and others)
  • Men’s 400m – Luke Van Ratingen – 28.6% (up against four other sub-46 second runners including Olympic qualified Reece Holder)

Entries in our Nationals Tipping Comp close midnight Wednesday!

It’s not too late to enter… enter now to avoid missing out!

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