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Australia announces team of six for Nanning - World Half Marathon championships

Benita Johnson winning the Edinburgh 10km (Mark Shearman)Benita Johnson winning the Edinburgh 10km (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

Athletics Australia has today announced a team of six athletes to contest the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Nanning, China, on Saturday, 16 October.

Flying the flag for Australia in the men’s event will be Clint Perrett, with the remaining five squad members combining for the women’s team event under the guidance of road running veteran Benita Willis.

?Having already competed at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships (70th, 35:39.00) and the London Marathon (13th, 2:18:55) earlier this year, Perrett will make his return to the Half Marathon distance on the back of his victory at the Melbourne Half Marathon (1:04:34) last November, lining up as the sole male competitor in the race.

?Boasting an impressive road running resume that includes six career marathons, Willis will headline the women’s team with bronze at the 2003 edition of the championships (1:09:26) to her name. A three-time Olympian and four-time World championships representative, the 31-year-old last took on the 21.1km distance at the 2009 Great North Run in England, where her time of 1:11:57 placed her 10th.
 
The 2004 world cross country champion will be joined on the start line in Nanning by Nikki Chapple, Cassie Fien, Jessica Trengrove, and Melinda Vernon (NSW), with the top three place-getters to combine for a team score.
 
Chapple, the reigning Australian road running champion, took line honours at the Kagawa Marugame Half Marathon in Marugame (JPN) in February in a time of 1:08:37. Returning to the international running circuit just last year, Chapple took fourth at the Great North Run and surged to fifth on the Australian all-time list with her time of 1:10:03.
 
Cassie Fien took gold (1:11:58) at the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon in May and silver in a personal best time of 1:11:45 at the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July in what was a strong start to the year, after rounding out her 2009 campaign with a new personal best time of 52:47 in the 15km road race event.

?Twenty-four-year-old Fien was Australia’s only female representative at the 2009 world Half Marathon championships, where she crossed the line in 31st place in a time of 1:12:55.
 
Placing seventh in the Zatopek:10 late in 2009, Melinda Vernon this year placed second at the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, crossing the line in the new personal best time of 1:14:50. In 2010 the 24-year-old has also taken to the start line of the World University Cross Country Championships, placing seventh overall.
 
The bronze medallist at the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July, Jessica Trengrove is set to make her international open-age debut at the IAAF world Half Marathon championships in October. The winner of the 5000m (17:20:47) and 10,000m (35:34.25) events at the Australian University Games in 2009, Trengrove placed 10th at the World University Cross Country Championships in April in a time of 17:14.00.

?Athletics Australia National Distance Coordinator Tim O’Shaughnessy said the return of Willis was a coup for the Australian team.
 
“Having Benita as part of the women’s team is a real boost for the girls, she is a seasoned campaigner at meets like this and her experience is invaluable,” he said.
 
“Nikki is a great runner proven by her result in Japan earlier this year alongside her win at the Launceston 10 last weekend, so fingers crossed that as a group the girls can combine for some high places resulting in a good team score.”
 
Departing Australia for the championships in early October, the five-strong women’s team will be chasing Australia’s first medal in the team event since Steve Moneghetti led an Australian men’s team to silver in 1993.
 
19th IAAF world Half Marathon championships ?Nanning (CHN) ?October 16, 2010
 
Women (5):
Nikki Chapple (Vic, 29)
Cassie Fien (Qld, 24)
Jessica Trengrove (SA, 22)
Melinda Vernon (NSW, 24)
Benita Willis (Vic, 31)
 
Men (1):
Clint Perrett (Vic, 27)

Athletics Australia for the IAAF