Home-grown heroes

For those who doubt that it is possible to achieve at a high level in sport from a Tasmanian base, Hamish Peacock and Josh Harris are examples of fine works in progress to the contrary. 

The engineer and mathematician have not only completed high level academic studies from home, but both stand a strong chance of representing Australia once again this year.

Both men have qualified for this year’s World Athletics Championships in London and, in effect, only need to ensure that they are in the top three in the country come selection date to book their seats on the plane.

Peacock achieved his second qualifier in the javelin at the Tasmanian Championships at the Domain in Hobart yesterday afternoon, whilst Harris broke through in the marathon at Lake Biwa in Japan earlier in the month.

For the bigger man this is fairly routine these days, having made every major national team since 2013 with his crowning glory to date being a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow a year later.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The success of Hamish Peacock on the world stage proves that Tasmania is as good a place as any other to build an international sporting career. Picture: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The success of Hamish Peacock on the world stage proves that Tasmania is as good a place as any other to build an international sporting career. Picture: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

For Harris, it would be a first appearance at the highest level, although he has already worn the green and gold on both the track and in cross country in world university games.

Both are 26 and are in disciplines in which their international careers could extend for a good deal of time yet.

As Harris pounds the pavement in Launceston and Peacock undertakes daily gym and throwing sessions at the Domain, they provide a constant reminder for their fellow Tasmanians that nothing is unachievable.

Peacock’s immediate plan is to secure back-to-back national titles at the Australian Championships in Sydney in early May.

But as he often quips, there is probably another minor monkey he wouldn’t mind getting off his back in the near future.

Whilst he is the Tasmanian record holder at a world class 84.39 metres, he is yet to claim the best by a Hutchins School old boy.

That honour is currently held by Will Hamlyn Harris who had moved to the mainland by the time he set his best of 85.60 metres.

More seriously, Peacock will be keen to improve his performance level at the majors having not yet progressed to the top 12 at a world championships or in Rio last year.

Harris is a quiet achiever with bronze medals in national championships in three different disciplines to date – on the track over 3000 metres, and in both the half and full marathon.

Beyond a place in London in August he aims to join Peacock on the Gold Coast next April for the Commonwealth Games.

If that doesn’t work out, there is a solid plan B option with the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain at almost the same time.

Apart from being born in the same year, the two also share a quaint oddity with both having dabbled in of all other athletics events - the triple jump.

Todd Hodgetts medalled in both the world championships and the Paralympics achieving gold in both. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Todd Hodgetts medalled in both the world championships and the Paralympics achieving gold in both. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

But back on message of matters more serious. 

The aim is now very much for both to be in London this year.

Hopefully they will be on a path well-trodden with fellow Tasmanians Todd Hodgetts and Deon Kenzie likely selections in the Australian Team for the World Para Athletics Championships which will be held at the same venue a few weeks prior.

Hodgetts and Kenzie are now both old hands at their caper, having medalled at both world championships and the Paralympics.

Hodgetts has been atop the dais in each of these world class events.

The four men emphasise the areas in which Tasmania has been traditionally strongest – middle and long distance and throws.

Not to forget, however, the 400 metres hurdles.

And the really good news is that there is more to come both in these event groups and in other disciplines.

Morgan Gaffney, for example, is on the brink of a significant career breakthrough in the 100 metres.

A solid finals performance in the Nationals could force the Burnie women into national relay contention at least for the Gold Coast.

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