400m Hurdles champion Jana Pittman.
Australia’s largest ever Athletics team, comprising 123 athletes in total, will head to Melbourne in March looking for Games gold on the Track and Field.
Headlined by 5000m challenger Craig Mottram and 400m Hurdles queen Jana Pittman, the team contains 107 able-bodied athletes and 16 Elite Athletes with a Disability, 21 more than the largest previous team sent to Auckland for the Commonwealth Games in 1990.
The team contains four members who are competing in their fourth Games while seven will line up for a third and 42, including several EAD competitors are returning from Manchester.
The Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO Perry Crosswhite said the Australian team has a strong chance to continue a tradition which has seen them claim 386 medals in Track and Field at the Commonwealth Games, including 148 gold, since 1930.
"The quality of performances over the past few weeks demonstrates exactly what it means to be a member of a home team at a home Games. The size of the team is a welcome surprise, however every member has earned their place and we expect them to produce results in front of a massive crowd,” Mr Crosswhite said.
"Of course the opposition is more diverse in athletics than in any other sport with the Caribbeans in the sprints and jumps, Africans in the middle distance and the tradition rivals in England and South Africa all looking to send very strong teams, our goal is to be the strongest Athletics nation after England just edged us in Manchester."
The team also shows a strong future, as the 10 teenagers on board help in the process of rebuilding towards the Commonwealth Games and beyond.
The young additions include 400m runner Sean Wroe, Long Jumpers Fabrice Lapierre and John Thornell, Javelin thrower Oliver Dzuibak, Sprinter/Hurdler Sally McLellan and Shot Put and Discus thrower Dani Samuels, who have made a name for themselves at the junior level and will step up in Melbourne.
15 year-old pole vaulter Vicky Parnov, niece of Tatiana Grigorieva, is the youngest in the team, and will become the second youngest to compete in Athletics at the Commonwealth Games.
Former Nigerian runner Ambrose Ezenwa will make his debut for Australia in the 100, 200 and 4x100m, as will Irish ex-pat Sonia O’Sullivan in the 5000m.
On the MCG track, Jana Pittman will defend her 400m Hurdles title from Manchester, as will Kerryn McCann in the Marathon, Jane Saville in the 20km walk, Nathan Deakes in the 20km and 50km walk, and three of the four 4x400m Relay team.
Justin Anlezark will also look to repeat his Shot Put gold, as will Pole Vaulter Tatiana Grigorieva and Heptathlete Jane Jamieson.
The team also adds to the family representation at the Games, with three sets of siblings - sisters Jane and Natalie Saville in the 20km walk, Benita Johnson in the 10,000m and her sister Caitlin Willis in the 4x400m team, and Gabrielle Neighbour in the Hammer Throw and her brother Aaron in the Discus.
Tatiana Grigorieva and her 15-year-old niece Vicky Parnov also add to the family connection, both lining up in the Pole Vault, while Tamsyn Lewis and Steve Hooker will both continue family traditions which saw both sets of parents competing at the Commonwealth Games.
Athletics is one of the three sports, along with Boxing and Swimming, which has survived since the first Empire Games, and with the introduction of the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase in Melbourne, there are now 47 events – 24 for men and 23 for women.
The Melbourne 2006 schedule contains six events for Elite Athletes with a Disability – the 100m T12 (vision impaired), 200m (T46 – amputee) and Seated Discus events for men and the 800 metres T54 (wheelchair), 100m (T37 – cerebral palsy) and Seated Shot Put events for women.
The majority of the Australian team is expected to test out the MCG track at the Victorian Championships or the Athletics Australia Invitational, before warming up for the Games at the opening leg of the IAAF World Tour at Olympic Park.
The team will then carry Australia’s medal hopes onto the MCG for the Commonwealth Games when Athletics competition kicks off on ‘Super Sunday’ 19 March and runs through until 25 March.
The team includes:
Men’s Track Events: Ambrose Ezenwa, Patrick Johnson, Joshua Ross, Jonathan Bernard, Paul Harpur, Daniel Batman, Michael Armstrong, Heath Francis, Tim Matthews, Clinton Hill, John Steffensen, Sean Wroe, Nick Bromley, Mark Fountain, Craig Mottram, Jeremy Roff, Louis Rowan, Andrew Letherby, Shane Nankervis, Scott Westcott, Kyle Vander-Kuyp, Greg Eyears, Brendan Cole, Tristan Thomas, Elliot Wood, Youcef Abdi, Martin Dent, Peter Nowill, Luke Adams, Nathan Deakes, Jared Tallent, Duane Cousins, Chris Erickson, Adam Miller, Matt Shirvington, Mark Ormrod and Chris Troode.
Women’s Track Events: Sally McLellan, Lisa McIntosh, Katherine Proudfoot, Katrina Webb, Melanie Kleeberg, Crystal Attenborough, Lauren Hewitt, Rosemary Hayward, Jaimee-Lee Hoebergen, Tamsyn Lewis, Libby Allen, Erica Sigmont, Suzy Walsham, Angie Ballard, Christie Dawes, Eliza Stankovic, Lisa Corrigan, Sarah Jamieson, Sonia O’Sullivan, Eloise Wellings, Benita Johnson, Anna Thompson, Kerryn McCann, Lauren Shelley, Kate Smyth, Fiona Cullen, Lauren Boden, Sonia Brito, Jana Pittman,
Donna MacFarlane, Victoria Mitchell, Melissa Rollison, Jane Saville, Natalie Saville, Cheryl Webb, Preya Carey, Tania Van-Heer and Caitlin Willis.
Men’s Field Events: Kane Brigg, Nick Moroney, Paul Burgess, Steve Hooker, Dmitri Markov, Fabrice Lapierre, Tim Parravcini, John Thornell, Alwyn Jones, Andrew Murphy, Michael Perry, Justin Anlezark, Clay Cross, Scott Martin, Benn Harradine, Aaron Neighbour, Terry Giddy, Richard Nicholson, Bryan Stitfall, Stuart Rendell, Jarrod Bannister, Oliver Dziubak, William Hamlyn-Harris, Richard Allan, Jason Dudley and Matt McEwen.
Women’s Field Events: Claire Mallett, Ellen Pettitt, Petrina Price, Tatiana Grigorieva, Kym Howe, Vicky Parnov, Lisa Morrison, Kerrie Taurima, Bronwyn Thompson, Jeanette Bowles, Dani Samuels, Asti Poole, Monique Nacsa, Rosie Hooper, Kimberley Mickle, Kathryn Mitchell, Brooke Billett-Kruger, Karyne Di Marco, Gabrielle Neighbour, Jane Jamieson and Kylie Wheeler.
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