Debutants dominate Beijing athletics nominations
The 2008 Olympic Games will see the changing of the guard in Australian athletics with 24 new faces set to make their debut in Beijing.
Headlined by reigning world champions Jana Rawlinson and Nathan Deakes, Athletics Australia will nominate a final team of 41 athletes to the Australian Olympic Committee.
Meeting for the final time this week, selectors added four more athletes to the list: Paul Burgess (WA, pole vault), Mark Ormrod (SA, 4 x 400m), Youcef Abdi (NSW, 3000m steeplechase) and Victoria Mitchell (VIC, 3000m steeplechase).
Dani Samuels is the youngest athlete at 20 years of age and Kate Smyth is the oldest at 35.
The Australian track and field team for the 2008 Olympic Games features:
Three Olympic silver medallists and two Olympic bronze medallists
In Athens in 2004, the Australian men’s 4 x 400m relay team surprised everyone to win a silver medal. Dubbed the ‘silver bullets’, three members of the relay team will return in Beijing - Clinton Hill, Mark Ormrod and John Steffensen. Walkers Nathan Deakes and Jane Saville, who both won bronze medals in Athens, will again chase a spot on the podium.
Two world champions and one world indoor champion
An emotional Nathan Deakes walked to a gold medal in Osaka last year and supermum Jana Rawlinson added a second world title to her growing list of achievements in the 400m hurdles. Tamsyn Lewis stormed to a shock 800m win in Valencia at the World Indoors earlier this year.
Seventeen athletes who have competed in one or more Olympics
Jane Saville will add her name to an exclusive list of Australian track and field athletes to have competed in four Olympics - joining fellow walker Simon Baker, sprint star Raelene Boyle and marathoners Rob de Castella, Steve Moneghetti and Lisa Ondieki.
Australia’s first indigenous field event athlete
Victorian discus thrower Benn Harradine will have the honour of becoming the first indigenous field athlete to represent Australia at an Olympic Games. He becomes the sixth indigenous track and field Olympian, joining Cathy Freeman, Patrick Johnson, Nova Peris-Kneebone, Joshua Ross and Kyle Vander-Kuyp.
Two male shot putters for the first time since Melbourne in 1956
Australia will be represented by two male shot putters in Beijing, Scott Martin and Athens finalist Justin Anlezark, for the first time since Barry Donath and Peter Hanlin graced the Olympic stage in Melbourne in 1956.
Three team members with Olympian parents
Alana Boyd will become the first Australian in any sport to join both parents as Olympians with father Ray Boyd in the pole vault at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics and mother Denise (Robertson) Boyd, in the 100m, 200m and relay in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics. Steve Hooker’s mother Erica (Nixon) Hooker was a 1972 Olympian in the long jump and Tamsyn Lewis’ father Greg Lewis competed in the 1968 Olympics, in both the 100m and 200m.
Five parents on the 2008 team
Justin Anlezark (father of four-year-old Holly and one-year-old Lucy), Clinton Hill (father of three-month-old Callum), Lee Troop (father of two-year-old Macy), Jana Rawlinson (mother of one-year-old Cornelis) and Donna MacFarlane (mother of six-year-old daughter Marcella and four-year-old son Gabriel) are all parents.
The team size of 41 (subject to appeals) compares with Athens (44), Sydney (86), Atlanta (62), Barcelona (39) and Seoul (30).
The athletics competition will be held from August 15 to 24, at Beijing’s National Stadium, affectionately known as the Bird’s Nest.
Pending appeals, the list of final nominations will be sent to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection into the Australian Olympic team on July 4.
Australian athletes selected for nomination into the 2008 Australian Olympic Games team
(as at June 26, 2008, ages as at August 8, 2008 – additions in bold)
400m: Joel Milburn (22, NSW), John Steffensen (25, WA), Sean Wroe (23, VIC)
800m: Lachlan Renshaw (21, NSW)
1500m: Mitchell Kealey (24, QLD)
5000m: Collis Birmingham (23, VIC), Craig Mottram (28, VIC),
3000m Steeplechase: Youcef Abdi (30, NSW)
4x400m: Dylan Grant (20, QLD), Clinton Hill (28, ACT), Milburn (NSW), Mark Ormrod (25, SA), Steffensen (WA), Wroe (VIC)
20km walk: Luke Adams (31, NSW), Chris Erickson (26, VIC), Jared Tallent (23, VIC),
50km walk: Nathan Deakes (30, VIC), Adam Rutter (21, NSW), Tallent (VIC)
Marathon: Lee Troop (35, VIC)
Pole vault: Paul Burgess (28, WA), Steven Hooker (26, WA),
Shot put: Justin Anlezark (30, QLD), Scott Martin (25, VIC)
Javelin: Jarrod Bannister (23, QLD)
Discus: Benn Harradine (25, VIC)
400m: Tamsyn Lewis (30, VIC)
800m: Lewis (VIC), Madeleine Pape (24, VIC)
1500m: Lisa Corrigan (23, ACT), Sarah Jamieson (33, VIC)
100m hurdles: Sally McLellan (21, QLD)
400m hurdles: Jana Rawlinson (25, NSW)
3000m steeplechase: Donna MacFarlane (31, TAS), Victoria Mitchell (26, VIC)
20km walk: Jane Saville (33, NSW), Kellie Wapshott (26,VIC), Claire Woods (27,SA)
Marathon: Benita Johnson (29, VIC), Kate Smyth (35, VIC), Lisa-Jane Weightman (29, VIC)
Pole vault: Alana Boyd (24, QLD)
Long jump: Bronwyn Thompson (30, QLD)
Discus: Dani Samuels (20, NSW)
Heptathlon: Kylie Wheeler (28, WA)