The Olympic champion, Jared Tallent (Vic), has today been announced as Athletics Team Captain for Rio 2016, replacing the injured Sally Pearson (Qld).

A three-time medallist from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Tallent is Australia’s most successful male athlete at the Olympic Games, with his international resume also boasting podium finishes at the Commonwealth Games, the IAAF World Championships and the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships.

He debuted in the green and gold at the IAAF World Youth Championships in 2001 and has competed for Australia on 19 occasions, with Rio 2016 delivering him the honour to both compete and coach, as the driving force behind the preparation of his sister, Rachel Tallent, in the women’s 20km walk.

“I was devastated for Sally when I heard about her withdrawal from the team. As Olympic champion, I know how much it means to toe the start line to defend your title. I am thrilled to be asked to lead the athletics team in Rio. It’s a huge honour to represent your country, but to lead the athletics team takes that to another level. I can only hope that I can fill the shoes of the team’s most recent leaders,” Tallent said.

“The athletics team has seen a generational change since the last Olympics. I think the team is packed with debutants who could surprise. Combine these fresh faces with the well-established and experienced athletes and I believe we are in for a great team performance.”

Tallent will be joined in the Athletics Leadership Group by Alana Boyd (Qld, pole vault), Kim Mickle(WA, throws), Lauren Wells (ACT, 400m hurdles) and Chris Erickson (Vic, 50km race walk), with the quartet representing the jumps, throws, sprints and hurdles, and endurance sections of the team respectively.

“I hope that the leadership team can mentor and encourage the team to perform at its best. We want to create the best environment for everyone to excel. We have all worked so long and hard to get to this point in our careers and we want the Olympic experience to fulfil the dreams of the athletes,” Tallent added.

Athletics Australia Head Coach, Craig Hilliard, praised Tallent for his continued commitment to being the best. His appointment will complement the strong leadership team that will provide the necessary support required to guide Australia’s promising athletics section through the Olympic Games experience.

“Jared’s history of success and natural skills as a leader made him an ideal candidate for Team Captain. Across the course of his career he has been exemplary as an athlete and outstanding as an individual,” Hilliard said.

“Jared’s humility and demeanour is best highlighted by the way he acted during the often frustrating campaign to see him recognised as London 2012 Olympic champion. It is amazing to know that he will compete as the rightful gold medallist in the 50km walk.”

The athletics section for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be finalised following the close of the IAAF Qualification Period at 11:59pm CET on Monday 11 July. The team will then come together for an Olympic Games preparation camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton (USA), before arriving in the host city in three waves from 8 August. The athletics competition begins on 12 August.