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Day to miss school for world championships

Monday, 31 July 2017 | Athletics Australia



While her friends and classmates get stuck into another week of study and school duties, Beaudesert High’s Riley Day (Qld) has spent the last month a little differently.

The Year 12 student, who was just 5 months old when the Sydney 2000 Olympics were held, is preparing to make her Australian senior team debut at the IAAF World Championships in London.

“I’m 17, there are no expectations,” Day said from Team Australia’s preparation camp in Tonbridge.

“The chance to run against the fastest women in the world is incredible. All I’ve ever done is watch them on Diamond League and now I’m going to be in the lane next to them.

“If anything, my goal is to run a Commonwealth Games qualifier. I just want to run as fast as I can and hope to soak up as much of what’s on offer as possible.”

Day’s past month has been a whirlwind trip across the globe, with the country-girl recently taking home three medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas. Taking victory in the 200m and as a part of the 4x100m mixed relay, Day also won silver in the 100m.

Earlier in the year, Day was the star of Coles Nitro Athletics Melbourne. Lining up alongside Usain Bolt (JAM) on the second leg of the mixed 4x100m relay, the 17-year-old was unfazed by the occasion and went on to win the women’s 150m from Natasha Morrison (JAM).

Day has a 200m personal best of 23.26 from the Australian Athletics Championships earlier this year.

She will compete alongside Ella Nelson (NSW) who will be attending her second world championships. The 23-year-old from Sydney had a breakthrough 2016 when just 0.01 of a second separated her and a start in the women's 200m Olympic final in Rio.

Nelson’s 2017 domestic season was steady, with her best performance coming at the SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix in Canberra with 23.00 (+1.5), below her career best of 22.50.

Australia's quickest woman over the 100m hurdles Sally Pearson (Qld) will make her return to the track on which she won Olympic gold five years ago.

Pearson's affinity with the track at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park extends to as recently as one month ago, when the 2011 world champion set a season’s best 12.48 (+0.2) at the IAAF Diamond League.

Crossing the line in her fourth fastest time ever, and the quickest since she won gold in 2012, Pearson placed a narrow second behind world record holder Kendra Harrison (USA, 12.35).

With a history of success that rivals the very best of Australian athletics, Pearson returns to Team Australia for the first time since winning gold at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, due to a spade of injuries that have hampered her in recent times.

Pearson well and truly knows what it takes to win at the highest level, and while she may not have the fastest time on paper leading into the championships, she understands the pressures of a major competition and won’t be intimidated when the starter’s gun goes off.

"Obviously the 12.48 I ran in London was outstanding, but it's been about the same time since then. I know my most recent races were technical faults, I know exactly what those technical faults were and I know that I can fix them. I think I already have," Pearson said.

"I have so been looking forward to these final weeks of preparation. I have done this before, and I know I can step my game up. That's what you have to do, you have to fine tune, and I feel like I'm ready to go.

"London gave me the confidence that I need to arrive at the world championships knowing that I'm a contender."

Joining Pearson in the sprint hurdles events are Sydney University Athletics Club duo Michelle Jenneke (NSW) and Nicholas Hough (NSW).

Jenneke, who made her Team Australia debut at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, received a roll-down invitation to compete at what will be her second world championships after Beijing in 2015.

Jenneke boasts a personal best of 12.82 and will continue her season at the World University Games in Taipei after these IAAF World Championships.

Nicholas Hough, who recently ran a season’s best 13.44 at a meeting in Liege will line up in the men’s 110m hurdles. The 23-year-old who is ranked No. 2 on the All-Time Australian records list, won his third Australian title this summer will also be racing in Taipei after London

In the women’s 400m, three-time Australian champion Morgan Mitchell (Vic) will take to the one lap event with the aim of bettering her performance that saw her place eighth in the semi-final at the Rio Olympics.

Schoolteacher Lauren Wells will be lining up for her fourth world championships team in her pet event the 400m hurdles.

The Matt Beckenham-trained athlete has made the semi-finals at all five of her world championships and Olympic Games starts, and will be firmly eyeing a spot in the final eight this time around.

Both Mitchell and Wells have been named as part of the women’s 4x400m relay team alongside Ella Connolly (Qld), Ella Nelson (NSW), Anneliese Rubie (NSW) and Jess Thornton (NSW).

Elsewhere, Steve Solomon’s (NSW) start in the men’s 400m marks his return to major championship running for the first time since the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Boasting a season best of 45.19, the Duke University based charge will return to the track on which he made the 2012 Olympic final just weeks after winning bronze at the IAAF World Junior Championships.

"I'm fighting fit, I'm happy, I'm healthy, my coach Iryna (Dvoskina) is here and you know, we are looking towards the world championships with a lot of confidence and a good agenda ahead of us," Solomon said.

"I've never been to a major championship with a season best as good as I have now. After hamstring surgery, this is the first year that I have really understood my body. I know when it needs to be pushed, how we can do things differently, and how to train.

"I'm just trying to contain the excitement building inside of me"

Stay tuned. Preview stories for the jumps, throws, distance/walks and relay events will follow this week as we lead into the championships starting early Saturday morning Australian time.