Canberra draw card for top Victorian athletes

An early season showdown for Victorian pair Morgan Mitchell and Jessica Gulli-Nance with Australia’s best 400 metre runners is on the cards this weekend at the ACT Championships in Canberra.

The feature event will showcase 2015 world championships sensation Anneliese Rubie, who lifted the bar for the current crop of women 400 metres runner in Australia, a personal best time of 51.69 seconds to progress to the semi-finals in Beijing last August.

Western Athletics athlete Mitchell has taken her running to a new level after recording an Olympic qualifying time with a personal best of 52.04 seconds at the Hunter Track Classic in Newcastle last Saturday.

Deakin athlete Gulli is another with Olympic ambitions and will draw on the fight she showed at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge last year to produce a personal best of 53.22 seconds form lane 8 to finish ahead of Rubie and Morgan.

Canberra local and 2015 world championship 400 metres hurdles semi-finalist Lauren Wells will be focused on the distance hurdles event, but, as a member of the 400 metres relay team at the world championships last year, will be in the mix for selection to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games team.

In a race stacked with talent, national 400m bronze medallist Caitlin Sargent (QLD) and Glasgow 2014 representative Lyndsay Pekin (WA) add further depth along with Diamond Valley sprinter Monica Brennan rounding out the line-up after running a time of 53.87 seconds in Newcastle last weekend.

After two years out of the sport, Olympian Joshua Ross will return to the capital to reignite his track career, facing off with reigning national 100 metres champion Joshua Clarke (NSW), who showed plenty of promise in Newcastle last weekend, winning in a time of 10.39 seconds into a tough 2.8 headwind.

The pair will be chasing the Olympic standard of 10.16 seconds.

Nunawading long jumper Brooke Stratton will be on the runway in Canberra after coming close to clinching the Olympic qualifying mark of 6.70 metres at last month’s Victorian Country Championships in Geelong, leaping 6.69 metres, falling one centimetre short.

Old Melburnians pair Sam Baird and Alexander Carew will head north in search of fast times in the 400 metres, lining up against 2012 London Olympics finalist Steve Solomon (NSW), preparing for a second Olympics appearance this August in Rio de Janeiro.

In the junior ranks Box Hill sprinter Nana Owusu-Afriyie will be hard to beat in the under 18 100 metres, fellow Victorian’s Sienna Fighera and Ella Squires will offer close competition.

Ringwood sprint hurdler Danielle Shaw will head to Canberra after competing in her first national series meet last Saturday in tough Newcastle conditions, finishing third in the 100 metres hurdles with a time of 14.41 seconds.

The 2015 world youth semi-finalist is building up to a sub 14 second time and the 13.85 seconds qualifying standard for the IAAF world under 20 championships later this year in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Williamstown multi-athlete Celeste Mucci is another chasing world under 20 qualification, after falling short of the heptathlon 5,300 points standard by 17 at last month’s Queensland Multi Championships.

Lining up in the 800 metres, it will be a welcome return to state level competition for Preston middle distance runner Darcy Sutton after dealing with chronic fatigue for the last year and half.

The ACT State Championships will run in conjunction with the IPC Athletics Grand Prix meet from Friday 5 – Sunday 7 February.

For ACT State Championship entry lists click here

For more information on the IPC Athletics Grand Prix click here