Three Games spots tipped

TASMANIA should have at least three track and field athletes contesting this year's Commonwealth Games despite none being named in yesterday's first round of selections.

Chef de Mission Steve Moneghetti announced a contingent of 45 automatically selected athletes for the Glasgow games, but Tasmanian Institute of Sport coach Peter Fortune remained confident that the state will supply a healthy share when the final team is confirmed in June.

London Olympian Tristan Thomas and throwing specialist siblings Hamish and Huw Peacock have all achieved B-qualifiers and are expected to make the final cut, with Australia able to name up to three athletes per event.

Hammer thrower Danielle McConnell and middle-distance runner James Hansen remain in contention but are considered longer shots unless they can impress selectors in the remaining qualification period.

"It's looking like we'll have three in Glasgow," Fortune said.

"This announcement was for automatic non-negotiable qualifiers who have set A-standards and won national championships.

"If nothing changes between now and June, I would hope that Hamish and Tristan would be in the team because they set B-qualifiers and came second at last week's nationals, while Huw is also well placed, having set a number of B-qualifiers and come third at nationals."

Thomas, Tasmania's most consistent track and field athlete, an Olympic semi-finalist in 2012 and world championship bronze medallist in the 2009 4x400m relay, went just inside the B-qualifying time when he clocked 50.13 to finish second behind Ian Dewhurst (49.52), of New South Wales, in the national 400m hurdles final in Melbourne.

While short of an A-qualifier (49.20) and his own five-year-old meet record of 49.26, the Canberra-based 27-year-old's performance should book his second Commonwealth Games appearance, after debuting in Melbourne in 2006.

"Tristan is sitting in second place in the event and it is unlikely there would be any athlete other than him and Dewhurst that would better their performances," Fortune said.

"The London Olympics also works in his favour for the relay, and I would expect him to be nominated in both."

Hamish Peacock is similarly placed after the 23-year-old Eastern Suburbs athlete finished second in the javelin.

Queenslander Josh Robinson was selected yesterday after achieving both a gold medal and A-qualifier of 82.48m, while 2013 world championship representative Peacock looks set to follow him to Glasgow after his 80.51m was the best of five athletes who exceeded the B-standard of 72.60m.

Younger brother Huw, 21, could also make his first senior team by taking advantage of multi-talented Queenslander Matthew Denny.

Victorian Tim Driesen was selected after winning the national hammer title in 67.16m, and while Denny also achieved a B-qualifier with 65.13m to finish second, he is expected to contest the world junior titles rather than the Commonwealths, opening the door for third-placed Peacock, who threw 63.08m.

McConnell was one of three Tasmanians to finish in the top ten of the women's hammer, the Hobart 20-year-old narrowly missing both a medal and a B-qualifier with a fourth-placed throw of 57.17.

Podium placegetters Lara Nielsen, Gabrielle Neighbour and Alexandra Hulley all achieved B distances, but with Hulley also eligible for world juniors instead, Fortune rated McConnell's chances of a discretionary selection as "feasible but unlikely".

He said Hansen, 20, ran an intelligent race in a tactical but slow 1500m final that saw none of the finishers achieve the B-qualifying standard of 3:40.75.

The North Launceston runner has previously clocked 3:41.85 and with only two athletes so far achieving B-standards could still force himself into contention if he could knock off another second.

In addition to the contingent of athletes announced yesterday, more than 70 have achieved at least one B-standard and will be considered for selection at the close of the qualification period on June 1. The Games run from July 23 to August 3.

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