Stewart McSweyn has the potential to overtake Craig Mottram as Australia’s best track distance runner.
This is the view of national marathon icon Steve Moneghetti, who watched the King Islander emerge in Ballarat and was his team leader at April’s Commonwealth Games.
McSweyn’s breakout season has seen him become Tasmanian record holder in every distance from 1500 to 10,000 metres while a 13-second personal best of of 7:34.79 at the Diamond League meet in Rabat earlier this month established him as the second-fastest Australian of all time over 3000m.
“I’ve known Stewy for a long time and seen him progress,” Moneghetti told The Examiner. “7:34 is unbelievable running, the only bad thing is that is not an Olympic distance.
“I thought Craig Mottram was a once in a lifetime runner, so to see Stewy press him is quite remarkable and I’m just enjoying the journey.”
Another tremendous run this morning at #RabatDL by @Stewy_mac3 with a 13 sec PB in the 3000m clocking 7:34.79.— Athletics Australia (@AthsAust) July 14, 2018
In 2018 he has broken PBs at 1500, 5k & 10k
His 🇦🇺all-time rankings - one of our best all-rounders?
Also in 2017 3kSC 1⃣5⃣ pic.twitter.com/1mItDM5Pqi
Asked if he could see one 188cm Melbourne-based Nic Bideau-trained whippet surpass another, the well-respected former world champion marathon medallist didn’t hesitate.
“I don’t see why not. I would never say never with Stewy because he has already amazed me so many times and is front and centre at the moment.
“He is mixing it with the best distance runners in the world and his progress has been phenomenal. It’s very exciting to watch such progress in someone so young and there is no reason why he cannot be one of the greatest Australian distance runners of all time given the breadth of his results. To do what he has from 1500m through to 10k is staggering.
“The future looks bright for Australian distance running with Stewy on the scene.”
Ballarat-born Moneghetti has monitored McSweyn’s development since he left King Island District High to attend Clarendon College and went on to compete at cross-country world championships (2013 and ’17), World University Games (2015) and track and field world championships (2017).
“Interestingly, he was not the best kid in Ballarat but always had long gangly legs and ability, it was just a matter of getting the dedication. His twin brother Gus is good mates with my daughter’s partner and he has a good connection with Ballarat.
“I thought he’d be a marathon runner but since he’s moved to Melbourne and joined Nic Bideau at the Melbourne Track Club he’s gone crazy.
“His improvement in the last couple of years has been staggering. I never imagined he could run 3:34 but he’s got a lot more top-end speed than I ever thought he’d have.
“I was keen to see his distance running progress but so has his middle distance.”
McSweyn became Australian 10,000m champion when he won the Zatopek Classic last December and having run both the 5000m (fifth) and 10,000m (11th) at his maiden Commonwealth Games, had his chef de mission adding to the debate about his optimum distance.
FIRST on the Tasmanian All Time List, SECOND on the Australian All Time List and THIRD in the 2018 WORLD rankings for @Stewy_mac3 in the 3000m following his 7:34.79 at the Rabat DL this morning 🔥 #podiumfinish#themayor#beansingitpic.twitter.com/bNBkeBrK31— UTAS Athletics (@unitasathletics) July 13, 2018
“The way he is running at the moment he could medal at anything from 1500m through to 10k.
“That range is exceptional.
“When I was running it was really just me and Rob de Castella but in recent years because there has been more depth to distance running you need to specialise, but Stewy has got such a range.
“He’s going to make some sort of marathon runner. He’s getting close to Mo Farah speed, that’s phenomenal.
“But I’d be looking at 5k at the moment. That rolling consistent pace would suit him more and I think Nic would agree with that. But I think he may eventually be best at 10km.
“He’s just a great kid. I follow him on social media and love all that Mayor of King Island stuff.”