A team of 28 young Australian athletes are amongst the first to arrive in Bydgoszcz, Poland for the 12th IAAF World Junior Championships.
Wary of the impact that more than 30 hours of travel from the team’s final camp on the Gold Coast in Australia to Bydgoszcz can have on top class performances, the team will settle into their new time zone with the support of a strong support staff which includes a doctor, two physiotherapists, and perhaps most importantly, a recovery specialist.
Despite the long journey to Poland, the experience of the young team is expected to put them in good stead for the six-day championship; 16 of the team have competed previously at the World Youth or World Junior Championships.
The most experienced athlete in the team, and the best hope for a gold medal, is 18-year old Vicky Parnov. The pole vaulter tasted international senior competition at last year’s World Championships in Osaka and endured the pressure of an 80,000 strong parochial crowd in Melbourne at the Commonwealth Games in 2006. In age competition she has an impressive record: a bronze medal two years ago at the World Junior Championships in Beijing and gold last year at the World Youth Championships in Ostrava.
Under the coaching guidance of her father Alex, Parnov has competed in Europe recently, with a leap of 4.20m indicating that she is in form to approach her personal best of 4.40m, which she set last year.
Parnov is not the only member of the team to have represented Australia in open competition. Versatile sprinter Kurt Mulcahy, a prodigious talent who two years ago gave up the opportunity to play first grade Rugby League in order to focus on athletics, was a member of the Australian 4x400m relay team last year at the World Championships in Osaka.
Despite the recent disappointment of narrowly missing selection in Australia’s relay squad for the Beijing Olympics, Mulcahy is firmly focused on continuing Australia’s past successes over the quarter mile at the World Juniors, which consists of three medals: Miles Murphy (1st in 1986), Stephen Perry (2nd in 1988), and Casey Vincent (2nd in 1998).
With a personal best of 46.03 seconds he will be formidable competition for the rest of the field.
Two medallists from last year’s World Youth Championships will be keen to return to the podium in Poland.
Adam Bevis, the bronze medalist in the Octathlon, has successfully incorporated the two additional events of the decathlon into his repertoire, making him a threatening prospect. Hamish Peacock, the silver medal winning javelin thrower from the southern island state of Tasmania, has a hefty personal best of 71.36m. A noted big time performer, the 17-year-old hopes to improve on Australia’s best place finish (third) in the event.
Jessica Rothwell, who placed 5th in the junior race at the World Race Walking Cup in Cheboskary, is expected to strongly challenge the eastern European athletes who tend to dominate the 10,000m walk, whilst finalists from last year’s World Youth Championships, Kimberley Mulhall (shot put and discus), Ryan Gregson (1500m), James Kaan (800m), and Lomana Fagatuai (shot put and discus) have all had a taste of reaching the final round of a championship and are hungry for more.
Seventeen Australian athletes have won gold at the World Junior Championships; at the last edition in Beijing, China in 2006, Robert Crowther (long jump) and Dani Samuels (discus throw) entered that group.
Jana Rawlinson has two World Junior gold medals to her name, winning the 400m and 400m hurdles in 2000.
Tim McGrath, Athletics Australia Media, for the IAAF
Australian team for the 12th IAAF World Junior Championships:
Athlete Event Personal Best
Adam Bevis Decathlon 7117 points
Robert Falchi Triple jump 15.62m
Henry Frayne Triple jump 15.77m
Emanuele Fuamatu Shot put 19.37m
Ryan Gregson 1500m 3:43.84
Craig Huffer 1500m 3:43.89
James Kaan 800m 1:47.62
Kurt Mulcahy 400m 46.03
Hamish Peacock Javelin 71.36m
Andrew Peska Discus 56.17m
Andrew Welch Discus 56.45m
Rachel Birtles Pole vault 4.00m
Angeline Blackburn 400m 54.01
Melissa Breen 100m 11.46
Bridey Delaney 1500m 4:21.55
Lomana Fagatuai Shot put 14.89m
Melissa Hayes 10000m walk 48:03.62
Trychelle Kingdom 800m 2:05.32
Brittney McGlone 400m hurdles 58.53
Kimberley Mulhall Shot put 14.94m
Vicky Parnov Pole vault 4.40m
Larissa Perry Long jump 6.17m
Jessica Rothwell 10000m walk 46:15.17
Kate Shierlaw Javelin 49.90m
Olivia Tauro 200m 23.62
Chloe Tighe 1500m 4:19.80
Zoe Timmers High Jump 1.84m
Sianne Toemoe 800m 2:05.46