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Victorian Country Championships set for five year venue rotation

Athletics Victoria after meeting with the regional representative committee has agreed on event locations for the next five Victorian Country Championships including the Albury/Wodonga.

“We now have agreed venues for the next five years which gives our regional committees the opportunity to seek local and regional support and to promote this iconic event,” Athletics Victoria CEO Glenn Turnor said.

Victorian Country Championships locations:

  • 2015 – Bendigo
  • 2016 – Geelong
  • 2017 – Casey Fields
  • 2018 – Ballarat
  • 2019 – Albury/Wodonga

The Victorian Country Championships will be held over the Australia Day weekend – Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Athletics Victoria welcomes this rotation in particular South Coast and Albury/Wodonga who are exciting additions to the list of venues. It’s a great opportunity to take athletics to different regions around Victoria, said Turnor.

Metro athletes are welcome to participate but as has been the case in the past only four metro athletes in finals.

“‘The Country championships have been a great success for over 25 years and we look forward to making sure they continue to be,” said Turnor.

The Victorian Country Championships attracts strong competition with over 700 participants competing in Ballarat this year from all over Victoria and around Australia.

The event also serves as great boost for local economies and helps promotes Athletics Victoria’s challenge of JOIN.EXPERIENCE.BENEFIT.

Ruddick gold off no sleep

Australia’s number one ranked female walker Kelly Ruddick may have been up all night with a sick child but that wasn’t going to get in the way of gold in the 5000 metres walk race on the opening day of competition at the 2014 Victorian Country Championships in her home town of Ballarat last weekend.

“It’s great to win the country title, it’s great to win any major race, especially being in Ballarat,” Ruddick said.

“I have not been to bed yet, last night I worked to midnight and then one of my children had to go to hospital so I have not hit the bed at all, so that race was pretty difficult today, and I’m going to work right now.”

After completing a strong training block with new coach Brent Vallance the focus for Ruddick turns to this weekend’s Australian 20km Race Walking Championships in Hobart.

“Hobart is a qualifier for the world cup this May in China and there will be a strong international field,” Ruddick said.

“I’ve been aiming towards the 20km more so than the 5km, I found that a little bit difficult and I’m at the end of a big training block so I’m a bit tired.”

The proud Ballarat Harriers walker wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of victory on her home track.

“It was (all about the win), it was a hard hit out, I just love to win here (Ballarat) and I’m really proud to be a Harrier and do it for them and Ballarat as well,” said Ruddick.

With no walk event at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow all roads lead to Rio 2016 for Ruddick who is determined to live out a lifelong ambition of representing Australia at an Olympic Games.

“I’ve actually done an Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard time, sadly I’m ranked number one in the Commonwealth and this is the first time ever there is no walk in the Commonwealth Games,” Ruddick said.

“For me it’s a bit of a bummer, but, I’m training a lot more serious than I ever have so if I keep it up I’ll be getting faster each time and aiming more towards the 20km rather than track meets which are a bit shorter, so Rio is in the mix, I’m definitely aiming for that.”

Ruddick along with stepping up her training program will have to juggle an increased travel schedule, motherhood and work commitments.

“I’ve been invited to race in Mexico in February, so there is a lot of travel coming up which I’m excited about, it’s great to be a part of the Australian team, its only taken me 40 years, I’m doing it all in reverse, I’ve had the kids and now I’ve decided I’m going to have a go,” Ruddick said.

Ruddick is enjoying working with three-time Olympic medalist Jared Tallent’s former coach Vallance and believes he is the person to take her walking to a new level.

“I know I’m in great hands with him and I’m really confident I can improve a lot and cut a few minutes across the 20km’s and be very competitive.”

“I travel to Melbourne, he (Vallance) was based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra but has now moved to Melbourne for a different role.”

“I head down there twice a week and train with Olympian Chris Erickson and Jesse Osborne who are fantastic.”

There is every chance Ruddick could return to running since overcoming shin splints.

“I actually wanted to be a marathon runner but due to injury I stumbled into walking and thought I can do this.”

“I started with the Harriers at 15 and ran for 20 years and got an injury and someone suggested walking and the injury went away.”

“I might go to marathons; my body is feeling stronger, and more use to increasing the kilometres,” Ruddick said.

Click here for more information on the 2014 Australian 20km Race Walking Championships taking place this Sunday 2 February at Constitution Dock in Hobart.

Country stars ready to shine in Ballarat

Over 700 athletes will descend on Ballarat this Australia Day long weekend (Friday 24- Sunday 26 January) for the 2014 Victorian Country Championships at Llanberris Reserve.

The first major individual championships on the Athletics Victoria summer calendar will showcase a mix of up and coming talent through to the masters champions.

After stealing all the headlines last December in Townsville at the Australian All School Championships with a record breaking 1.96 metre jump in the women’s high jump, Eleanor Patterson will be one to watch in Ballarat.

The 17-year-old South Coast athlete added the Australian under 20 and 18 records to her growing CV and is on track to break Vanessa Ward and Alison Inverarity’s open national record of 1.98 metres.

Husband and wife duo Rob and Narelle Lehmann will once again be looking to dominate the 40 plus category. The Ballarat pair took home seven gold medals between them, winning all their events at last year’s event in Geelong.

Ballarat Pod Squad member and 2013 Australian world youth team member Sam Baird will be chasing a world junior qualifier to ensure he is on the plane to Eugene, USA later this year.

The current 400 metre under 18 Australian champion will have strong competition from Deakin Athletics Sam Reiser who has already claimed the world junior qualifying time of 47.25 seconds in the 400 metres with a 47.10 seconds late last year at the opening High Velocity Club meet of the season.

Geelong Guid sprinter Angela Byrt will be looking to replicate her strong form from the recent Zatopek:10 2013,  the 25-yeard-old broke the women’s Victorian country 100 yards record in 11.08 seconds and will be a strong contender in the 100 metres event in Ballarat.

The Victorian Country Championships not only attract strong competition from the regional centres but attracts entries from metropolitan athletes, interstate and overseas, with one competitor traveling from New Zealand.

These events are not possible without the hard work and dedication from the local organising committees and the Ballarat Regional Athletics Centre has done a fantastic job preparing  this year’s event.

Good luck to all athletes competing over the weekend and big thanks to all the officials, volunteers and helpers.

Don’t forget to join in the conversation on social media and hashtag #VicCountryChamps on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Key information:

Date: Friday 24 – Sunday 26 January 2014

Where: Llanberris Reserve, Ballarat

Final Timetable: Click Here

Start List: Click Here

Rules of Competition: Click Here

Team Entry Lists: Click Here

IAAF: Athletics is a labour of love for Birmingham

Collis Birmingham just loves running.

While many international track runners have spent the past month taking a well-earned rest and putting their feet up in readiness for another gruelling winter of training, the 28-year-old has swapped his spikes for racing flats, choosing to return to the half-marathon distance at British races in the autumn.

It has been a long season for the Australian, whose season began in January and has never really ended, having raced in every calendar month since then.

At the start of the year he set an Oceania record of 1:00:56 at the Marugame Half Marathon in Japan in February. His most recent effort was a fourth-place finish at the Great Birmingham Run on Sunday (20) and his 1:03:44 clocking on a tough course was an improved performance after a slightly disappointing run at the Great North Run in September.

Read more on the IAAF website