The Australian Track and Field Championships held last week at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre doubled as the nomination trials for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Athletes could secure their ticket to Tokyo with a win at the national championships provided that they had met the qualification height, distance or time.
Six former Little Athletes were automatically nominated for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, with four nominated for their maiden Olympics. Bendere Oboya (Prospect), Jye Edwards (Albion Park), Dani Stevens (Greystanes), Nicola McDermott (Gosford), Rohan Browning (Illawong) and Liz Clay (Hornsby) were all automatically nominated after winning the national championships in their respective events. The five athletes selected will join Jessica Hull (Albion Park) in Tokyo, who was nominated for the 5000m in August 2020.
The 18th of April will be a day that Nicola McDermott will remember forever. Not only did she book herself a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, she also became the first Australian women to break the elusive 2.00m barrier setting a new Australian and Oceania High Jump record in the process.
“Two meters isn’t the end; it’s going to go higher.”
In breaking the Australian record, Coles donated a $1,000 gift card to Nicola’s Little Athletics Centre of choice, which was Gosford Little Athletics Centre.
Bendere Oboya finished her domestic season undefeated over the 400m in 52.20. The former Prospect Little Athlete had many things to celebrate, confirming her nomination to the Tokyo Olympics on her 21st birthday.
Hornsby District alum Liz Clay also capped off her dominant domestic season, winning her first national title. With two Olympic qualifiers and a string of sub-13 runs, Liz secured her automatic nomination for the Tokyo Olympics.
“My goal was to execute the start and get in front, and I was smiling from the sixth hurdle because I was like, I’m gonna win! I’m gonna win!”
Dani Stevens has now been selected for her fourth Olympic Team after winning her 14th national title. The champion discus thrower now chases the elusive Olympic medal to add to her collection.
“This Team has been the hardest one to make and the one I’m most grateful for.” The 2009 World Champion said, “It’s really special to know I’ll be there in Tokyo.”
Jye Edwards stunned the crowd when he won the 1500m National Championship in a Tokyo Olympic qualifying time. After a breakthrough season that has seen PB after PB, Edwards finished the season with a 1.5 second PB overcoming the current national record holder Stewart McSweyn in 3:33.99, securing his first qualifying time and the automatic nomination.
On the race, Edwards said, “I just made that split-second decision to go after Stewy, and I’m so happy it paid off.”
In the past few years, Edwards becomes the third Albion Park athlete to be nominated for an Olympic Games after former national 1500m record-holders Jessica Hull and Ryan Gregson.
Australia’s fastest man Rohan Browning booked his ticket to Tokyo after winning his first National Championship in 10.09. Browning had already secured the Olympic Qualifier of 10.05 earlier this year at the Queensland Track Classic.
A former Illawong Little Athlete Browing’s run has him confident for Tokyo.
“I never want to be a lane filler. I never want to go out there to bomb out in the heats. I came 40th in Doha (in 2019) and I don’t want to do that again. I want to be competitive and I really think I can.”
Congratulations to all former Little Athletes selected to represent Australia in Tokyo!
Photo via: Australian Olympic Committee
Article by Laura Crowhurst
UPDATE: 7th May 2021 – Thanks to David Tarbotton for confirming Rohan Browning as an Illawong Little Athlete 2006/07 season.