World champion Sally Pearson (Qld), will lead a small but elite team of seven athletes to the 17th IAAF World Indoor Championships to be held in Birmingham, England, March 1-4, 2018.

Pearson, who on Saturday attained automatic nomination in the 100m hurdles for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, will be looking to replicate her 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championship win in Istanbul in what will be her third appearance.

Michelle Jenneke (NSW) joins Pearson in the women’s 60m hurdles, while Nick Hough (NSW) will make his world indoor debut in the men’s event having secured entry via IAAF invitation.

Ryan Gregson (NSW), fresh from two wins in the last week, also headlines the Australian team. Gregson won his third-successive Australian 1500m title on Sunday and backed that up with victory in the mile event at the AIT International Grand Prix in Athlone, Ireland on Wednesday.

The IAAF World Indoor Championships is a key focus for Gregson this season.

“The 1500m at the Commonwealth Games will be cutthroat and feature the best 1500m runners in the world,” he said. “To prepare myself for that I wanted to practice racing against the best in the world. At the world indoors, a world title will be on the line. Sure, it will be good preparation for the Commonwealth Games, but racing at the world indoors has been a big focus of mine since the beginning of this campaign and it’s a championship that I’m desperate to have success in.”

Arena Birmingham is the same venue where Gregson broke the national indoor 1500m record 12 months ago with a time of 3:36.50.  It will be his first IAAF World Indoor Championships.

Pole vaulters Nina Kennedy (WA) and Kurtis Marschall (SA) both make their indoor competition debut in Birmingham.

The pair have both reached new personal bests in recent weeks with Kennedy vaulting to 4.71m, lifting her benchmark from 4.55m.

“I’ve worked really hard in this off-season. Last year after being injured I didn’t want to have that again,” explained Kennedy. “You’re growing up, you’re getting more mature, you learn from past mistakes. Lots of things are coming together at the right time with hard training behind me. I’m super happy with the season so far and hopefully we can keep that going.”

Kennedy had considered 4.71m to be her goal for the season but has been forced to reassess in the recent weeks.

“I have nothing to lose, I’m more excited than nervous,” the 20-year-old said. “I’m going to go over there to have some fun and see what I can do.”

Shot putter Damien Birkinhead (Vic) makes his World Indoor Championships debut.

Australia has competed at all but the 2006 edition of the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

Australia’s roll of honour at the IAAF World Indoor Championships includes seven athletes who have won gold: Mike Hillardt (Qld) 1500m 1985, Steve Hooker (Vic) pole vault 2010, Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) long jump 2010, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor (NSW) 200m 1995, Tamsyn Manou (Vic) 800m 2008, Sally Pearson (Qld) 100m hurdles 2012 and Kerry Saxby-Junna (NSW) 3000m walk 1989.

Courtesy of Athletics Australia