The Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne, Australia’s first World Athletics Continental Tour Gold level meet on Thursday looks set to offer Australian sports fans a meet like no other and build on the momentum of Australian athletics.
The Continental Tour Gold series is the uppermost level on the World Athletics Continental Tour calendar, sitting just under the Diamond League in status. Each meet attracts the best athletes across the globe, with 14 existing meets offered in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas and for the next three years, in Oceania.
One of the most highly anticipated events of the night will see the fastest man in the world Fred Kerley (USA) sprinting around the bend in the Peter Norman 200m. The 100m world champion will take on Australia’s fastest man Rohan Browning, World Athletics Championships representative Jake Doran and World Under 20 bronze medallist Calab Law.
Kerley’s personal best of 19.76-seconds places him in a league of his own on paper, but the raw talent of Law and Australian Under 20 record holder at 20.41-seconds Aidan Murphy will have nothing to lose.
In Australia for the first time, Kerley said he was thrilled to be able to use Australia as his first stop on his quest for back-to-back global glory at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest this August.
“I like competing on a new continent and this was one of the last continents for me to compete on. Every time I step on the track it should be something fast and I know my training has been going good,” Kerley said.
Browning, who will step up to the 200m, is excited for the challenge:
“It’s so exciting to run against a class athlete like Fred in the 200m, I am so inexperienced in the event that I’m not thinking with any limits. I don’t think there is any result that would surprise me in the shape that I’m in.”
Browning will take on the sprint double, returning for the 100m later in the program, where he will face World Athletics Championships semi-finalist Edward Osei-Nketia and Tiaan Whelplton from New Zealand, as well as Tasmania’s own Jacob Despard who will also attempt the sprint double.
A head-to-head matchup not to be missed is the Women’s Long Jump, with Australian record holder and 2022 world lead Brooke Buschkuehl (nee Stratton) lining up against American sensation Tara Davis-Woodhall. Davis-Woodhall will be fired up to impress the Australian crowds after setting a new world lead of 6.99m at the United States Indoor Championships over the weekend. The last time the duo met Buschkuehl set a huge Australian record of 7.13m, while Davis jumped a herculean 7.24m with an illegal tail wind.
Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz (USA) takes on Commonwealth champion Oliver Hoare in the John Landy Mile, with the race featuring 16-year-old prodigy Cameron Myers, Paralympic star Jaryd Clifford and Kiwi Samuel Tanner.
Joining the international contingent in the mile will be WA’s Matthew Ramsden, Callum Davies and Jude Thomas, while Australian distance great Ryan Gregson will honour the stalwart the meet is named after, with his return to the track.
An international affair awaits in the Women’s 1500m with US Olympic stars Heather MacLean and Emma Coburn, along with Ethiopian World Under 20 medallists Medina Eisa and Melknat Wudu, but no one will be more popular than Australia’s trio of Jessica Hull, Abbey Caldwell and Georgia Griffith.
World Cross Country bronze medallists Hull and Caldwell will look to build upon their success of the weekend just gone, while World Championship finalist Griffith possesses fresh legs and strong credentials. MacLean looms as the major danger to spoil the Australian party, while compatriot and steeplechase world champion Coburn has forged a long resume as a fierce competitor.
Olympic silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers will relish the energy of a crowd at Lakeside Stadium looking to improve upon her opening season jump with a 1.98m clearance. Olyslagers will lead the way for 18-year-old Erin Shaw, as well as New Zealand duo Keeley O’Hagan and Imogen Skelton.
Australia’s fastest Paralympian Chad Perris and the US Paralympic medallist Hunter Woodhall spearhead a star-studded Men’s 100m Ambulant race, with Australia’s depth in the para sprinting ranks set to be a highlight of the night. Perris, Australia’s fastest para athlete, recently clocked a scorching T13 Australian record of 10.65-seconds and will only be challenged for line honours by Woodhall who holds a 10.85-second best as a double leg amputee. The race extends beyond the clock with the multi-class scoring system, with five-time Paralympic champion Evan O’Hanlon, Tokyo Paralympic champion James Turner, and Commonwealth Games representative Jaydon Page all in the mix.
A special pre-meet event in Geelong will also take place on Wednesday, with the Men’s Discus action taking place down south. Commonwealth champion Matthew Denny takes on New Zealand Record Holder Connor Bell at John Landy Field. Denny unleashed in Adelaide earlier this month with a throw of 64.39m, however, it will be Bell who enters the competition with the furthest season best after throwing 66.14m in New Zealand. Denny has come out on top for the last two years, but Bell will be looking to end that streak come Wednesday afternoon in Geelong. Denny and Bell will also be joined by Australian decathlete and Olympic bronze medallist Ash Moloney, who will also contest the long jump.
The Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne is part of the 2023 Chemist Warehouse Australian Summer of Athletics, and is supported by the Victorian Government and World Athletics. Pre-meet events will begin at 5.45pm, with the main events commencing at 6.50pm.
Media release thanks to Athletics Australia