Athletics Australia has today announced a 16-strong team for the IAAF World Race Walking Cup to be held in Saransk, Russia, on May 12-13, 2012.
Headlining the team is dual-Olympic medallist Jared Tallent, who will compete across 50km in his fifth IAAF World Race Walking Cup. He won bronze in the 50km walk at the 2010 event in Chihuahua, Mexico, and last year replicated that performance at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
Tallent said: “I’m looking forward to the World Cup. It will be the final competition for us before the Olympics and we’re expecting it to be extremely tough in Russia."
“Of course the goal is to medal but it will be hard to get on the podium. However, if I do get on the podium it will be a massive boost leading into the Games, knowing that we’ve overcome extreme conditions, travel and tough competitions.
“Saransk has a great walking tradition, it’s where the Russian training centre is and they literally have 100s of athletes training there. They will have so much support and a very strong team.
“I think our women’s team can do really well this time. We have a quality team and overall we’re shaping up to match, if not better, our previous top five from two years ago.”
Tallent will be joined by Ian Rayson in the longer event, with Rayson most recently finishing eighth in the 20km walk at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Hobart last month.
In the men’s 20km event, Olympic nominee Luke Adams returns from injury to compete. Adams made his IAAF World Race Walking Cup debut in 2002 in Torino and has since gone on to represent Australia at a further four World Race Walking Cups.
Dane Bird-Smith and Rhydian Cowley will both make their senior debuts alongside Adams. Bird-Smith is the national under-20 10,000m walk record holder and at the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships finished fifth, while Cowley finished 15th in the junior 10km event at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup two years ago.
Completing the men’s 20km walk squad is Chris Erickson and Adam Rutter.
In the women’s 20km walk, Claire Tallent will be looking to better her top 20 finish from two years ago, while Regan Lamble, Beki Lee and Nicole Fagan will compete having placed second, 4th and 5th behind Tallent at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Hobart.
The gold, silver and bronze medal winners of the boys’ 10km race walk in Hobart, Blake Steele, Nathan Brill and Jesse Osborne will all contest the boy’s junior 10km walk, while Rachel Tallent, who won the girls’ under 20m 10,000m walk national crown last weekend, will start in the girls’ junior 10km walk and be joined by Kristie Gosnik.
In the men’s 50km, 20km and women’s 20km races the first three finishers will score team points while in the boys’ and girls’ 10km races the first two finishers will score. Two years ago in Chihuahua the team finished fifth overall.
10km walk (junior): Nathan Brill (Vic), Jesse Osborne (Qld), Blake Steele (SA)
20km walk: Luke Adams (NSW), Dane Bird-Smith (Qld), Rhydian Cowley (Vic), Chris Erickson (Vic), Adam Rutter (NSW)
50km walk: Jared Tallent (Vic), Ian Rayson (ACT)
10km walk (junior): Kristie Goznik (SA), Rachel Tallent (Vic)
20km walk: Nicole Fagan (NSW), Regan Lamble (Vic), Beki Lee (NSW), Claire Tallent (SA)
Athletics Australia for the IAAF