Melbourne, Australia; 29 November 2023 – The curtain will rise on the Chemist Warehouse Summer Season this Saturday, 2 December with On Track Nights Zatopek:10 setting the stage ablaze for a year of athletic brilliance at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne.
Held on the brink of another Olympic and Paralympic year, this year’s edition of the prestigious meet features hotly contested fields, with the Chemist Warehouse Australian 10,000m Championships at the forefront of the action.
The spotlight converges on Jack Rayner who is eyeing a third consecutive Australian 10,000m victory. For Rayner, a triumph carries more than just national glory but crucial strides towards securing a coveted spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Australian record holder at 27:15.35, Rayner has had an unbeaten run on home soil this year achieving victories at the Australian Cross Country Championships, Australian Road Running Championships (12km), Melbourne Marathon (Half Marathon), Burnie Ten (10km) and Noosa Bolt (5km), but won’t be resting on his laurels on his way to defending his crown.
“The Olympic year has come around a lot quicker than normal, given Tokyo was delayed by a year. It feels like it wasn’t that long ago, even though we aren’t far away from Paris. I’m really keen to improve and lower my personal bests,” Rayner said.
“Obviously I had a disappointing season over in Europe, but it has been nice to find form again on the Australian circuit. Hopefully I can keep the streak going against some good competition at Zatopek.”
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Standing in Rayner’s path is Tokyo hero Patrick Tiernan who has focussed on the marathon in recent years, but the former Australian record holder at 27:22.55 displayed his form when crossing the line second at the B.A.A Half Marathon in Boston a fortnight ago in a strong 1:01:56.
While the head-to-head showdown will be the storyline to follow, Kenya’s Athanas Kioko (27:23.84) and Ireland’s 1500m record holder Andrew Coscoran add international flare to the race.
In the women’s domain, a fierce battle awaits between two-time winner Rose Davies and Caitlin Adams, along with World Championships representatives Lauren Ryan and Cara Feain-Ryan. Adams will be gunning for her first Australian track title, while Davies will leave no stone unturned in her quest to bounce back after suffering defeat against Leanne Pompeani in 2022.
With the traditional Men’s Under 20 De Castella 3000m and Women’s Under 20 Ondieki 3000m doubling as the Australian championships for 2024, the prestigious titles will hold added value for the nation’s rising middle-distance stars.
The De Castella 3000m promises to deliver a showdown between speed and endurance, from the punishing kick of Peyton Craig to the aerobic engines of Jack Coomber and Logan Janetzki, and a host of promising prospects in between.
Hometown favourite Claudia Hollingsworth will mark her return to racing in the Ondieki 3000m, with the World Championships representative stepping up in distance to take on a quartet of World Cross Country athletes headlined by Gabrielle Schmidt and Aspen Anderson.
The feature races will be supported by a star-studded cast, including Olympic bronze medallist Ash Moloney who will flex his form in the Steve Hooker Pole Vault Challenge. The Women’s 600m will see two Olympians take on the distance, with 400m hurdler Sarah Carli stepping up in distance on a flat track against the likes of Bendere Oboya and Tess Kirsopp-Cole.
The night will also see some of the brightest talent in Australian track and field in the Open 3000m races, with Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Abbey Caldwell facing off against Maudie Skyring and Carley Thomas, while World Championships representative Matthew Ramsden, World Under 18 best holder Cameron Myers, Olympic steeplechaser Edward Trippas and 2022 Junior Athlete of the Year Jude Thomas will look to draw first blood.
The 2023 On Track Nights Zatopek:10 is hosted by Athletics Victoria. More information can be found here.
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