Athletics Australia Selectors have today confirmed an initial squad of 12 for the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships.

To descend on Rome (ITA) in early May, the team is headlined by three-time Olympic medallist Jared Tallent (Vic, 50km walk) and Australian 20km race walking champions Dane Bird-Smith (Qld) and Rachel Tallent (Vic).

Australia will field men’s and women’s 20km race walk teams, with selections including Rhydian Cowley (Vic), Michael Hosking (Vic), Brendan Reading (ACT), Nathan Brill (Vic), Tanya Holliday(SA), Beki Smith (NSW), Stephanie Stigwood (Tas) and Regan Lamble (Vic). Ian Rayson (NSW) will also compete in the 50km walk.

“The Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the IAAF World Under 20 Championships are on the horizon and this opportunity to compete against the world’s best is a crucial one for Australia’s best race walkers. I congratulate the 12 athletes selected to date,” Dion Russell, Athletics Australia Chairman of Selectors, said.

“Australia is enjoying a period of great depth in race walking and for this reason the team is very strong. I am confident of a similar level of success to that we have enjoyed in the past and know that the athletes selected will represent the Australian Flame with great pride and determination.”

Australia has a rich history of success at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships, winning eight individual medals including gold to Simon Baker (Vic). The men’s team, combining the performances of the three best-placed athletes in the 20km event, has also won two medals, including silver in 2006.

In Taicang (CHN) two years ago, the team won three bronze medals, with Tallent crossing third in the men’s 50km walk and the junior boys and girls winning team trophies.

The IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships are hosted every two years, with the Athletics Australia Selection Policy aiming to select athletes that are realistic medal chances or top-eight finishers, as well as to provide experience to those likely to compete at major championships in the future.

The Australian Flame team bound for the event is likely to increase after junior athletes are selected in the week commencing Monday 14 March 2016.

For more information on the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships, please click here.