State athletics coach Susan Andrews is delighted to see six Tasmanians competing at world championships but can recall halcyon days of nearly double that.
Hobart javelin thrower Hamish Peacock, King Island steeplechaser Stewart McSweyn and Launceston-born marathon runners Josh Harris and Milly Clark are heading to London to follow in the footsteps of Launceston shot-putter Todd Hodgetts and Forth runner Deon Kenzie who both claimed medals at the para championships.
Andrews is hopeful Tasmania’s strongest ever representation at this level is an indication that the state is returning to a golden era when it mass produced young national track and field representatives.
The middle distance specialist was one of 10 Tasmanians selected for the 1988 junior world championships in Sudbury, Canada.
“We did not think much of it at the time, it seemed just a natural progression but it was amazing to have that many Tasmanian athletes,” Andrews said.
“I remember those teams. We had some great coaches and really good athletes and hope to build up to those times again. I’m not sure we can get back to 10, but I’m hoping to get near. We’re pretty happy with the number we’ve got this year.”
After multiple representatives at Olympics in 1992 (Andrews, Simon Hollingsworth and Gail Luke), 1996 (Hollingsworth and Kylie Risk) and 2000 (Andrews and Risk), there has been one Tasmanian at the last four through Will Hamlyn-Harris (2004), Donna MacFarlane (2008), Tristan Thomas (2012) and Peacock (2016).
The last time Tasmania had three representatives at a senior international event was in 1998 with Risk, Andrews and Mandy Giblin at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
Tasmanian Institute of Sport coach Andrews believes this year’s elite crop have plenty of potential.
“Hamish has got a top eight within him and that’s what we’d all like him to achieve but it comes down to how he copes with that environment,” Andrews said.
“The sports psychologist has been working well for him and giving him a good advantage.”
The 26-year-old is the Australian javelin champion and competing at his third world championships having also become an Olympian in Rio last year and claimed a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Having spent most of his running career specialising in 5000m, 10,000m and steeplechase, Peacock’s UTAS Athletic Club teammate Harris will make his world championship debut in the marathon.
Andrews is confident the 27-year-old Launceston teacher will relish the learning experience.
“This is his first major championship but he’s done world university games and had some terrific marathons,” she said.
“I would just like to see him run a PB if possible because he’s had a really good lead-up, is training well and has been doing well coaching himself. He knows himself well and does a good job monitoring his body. He leaves no stone unturned.
“I think he will run well but you can never tell how a marathon is going to go. He deserves to be there and come out with a decent result.”
NSW-based Clark, 28, is backing up from the Rio Olympics where she was Australia’s best performing female marathon runner and has a PB of 2:29:07.
“I don’t know her very well but remember watching her run 10ks and steeplechases as a young athlete and know she did extremely well in Rio,” Andrews said.
“She’s incredibly talented and a beautiful mover with a great background in the sport so has all the goods working for her.”
McSweyn, 22, also of UTAS AC, earned an 11th-hour call-up having missed out on the 5000m but Andrews said contesting his pet event, the 3000m steeplechase, will boost his chances of also reaching next year’s Commonwealth Games.
Javelin qualification is on Thursday, August 10, with the final a couple of days later, both marathons and the steeplechase heats are on Sunday, August 6, .with the steeple final two days later.