1. The “Briggs” is the oldest of
Australia’s circuit meets – initiated in 1987 (a year before the first
Melbourne Track Classic) by Terry Dwyer originally with the idea of
becoming a relays meet along the lines of the competitions which feature
on the US calendar each April.
2. The man behind the London
Olympics, Lord Sebastian Coe won the 1000 metres at the Briggs#4 in 1990
and still holds the Tasmanian Allcomers Record he set in that race.
3. The Briggs has been a
qualifying opportunity for athletes for six Commonwealth Games and a
warm-up meet for a seventh – the 1990 Games in Auckland which began just
three weeks after the staging of Briggs#4.
4. Melinda Gainsford-Taylor set a
national record of 22.32 for 200 metres at Briggs#8 in 1994 when the
meet was conducted on a Sunday morning to make the most of the Derwent
breeze. It worked!
5. Kerry Junna Saxby was the toast
of Hobart when she set a world record of 20:13.26 in winning the 5000
metres walk at Briggs#10 in 1996, becoming the third athlete to set a
world record in Tasmania after Betty Cuthbert and Ron Clarke.
6. Cathy Freeman was a regular
visitor to the Briggs starting her personal best setting year in 1996
with a win at Briggs#10 in a classy 50.46.
7. Since its inception the meet
has had 11 different titles but has been the Briggs Athletics Classic
since its revival in 2006 – named in honour the late Graeme Briggs AM –
former President of both Athletics Australia and Athletics Tasmania and
the man credited with managing the first major international meet for
television – the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
8. Martin Keino, son of the
legendary Kenyan distance runner Kip Keino won the handicap mile at
Briggs#11 in 1997 after giving 58 seconds start to some of his rivals,
breaking four minutes for the distance in the process. The handicap mile
has in one form or another been part of the Briggs since its inception
and for Briggs#25 will be an under 16 race.
9. Former Olympic champion Linford
Christie won the 100 metres and anchored Great Britain to victory in
the relay at a star-studded Briggs#11 on 16 February 1997.
10. The men’s 400 metres hurdles
at Briggs#12 in 1998 was sensationally recalled over the public address
by announcer Maurie Plant when he realised the first flight of hurdles
had been wrongly placed leaving young Commonwealth Games aspirant, now
leading coach Matt Beckenham hula-hooping a hurdle around his waist.
Controversial American Bryan Bronson won after the re-start.
11. A then-unknown 19-year-old
Matt Shirvington won the 100 metres at Briggs#12 beating American
Olympic bronze medallist Dennis Mitchell. It was the start of a
whirlwind year for the now television presenter who by September had
progressed to be the fourth placegetter in a world class 100m at the
Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
12. 15-year-old Georgie Clarke
pulled off a major upset in winning the 1500 metres against a crack
field at Briggs#14 in 2000 setting a meet record of 4.06.77 which still
stands. The first three achieved the Olympic A qualifying time. Clarke
only ever ran faster on one occasion.
13. The unusually flamboyant
Kenyan Stephen Cherono was the star of Briggs#15 in 2001 dominating the
3000 metres steeplechase and setting a still standing meet record of
8:21.94. Whilst here he met with Qatari officials and soon after he
changed his name to Saif Saaeed Shaheen and eventually became his
adopted country’s first world champion.
14. 1998 Commonwealth Games 5000 metres gold medallist Kate Anderson who for the Briggs#25 weekend returns to co-ordinate a Kids Athletics
display ran a stunning personal best to defeat two world cross country
champions - Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan and Benita Willis over 3000
metres at Briggs#11 (1997). Anderson never ran faster at the distance
which still ranks her fourth Australian of all time.
15. 2006 Commonwealth Games flag
bearer Jane Saville warmed up for the second of her three Games gold
medals at Briggs#16 in 2002 by winning the 10000 metres walk on the
track in 46.02.05, a time that made the year’s world top ten. Saville
will be back in Hobart for Briggs#25 as a student on the IAAF Race
Walking Judges course.
16. Off the back of her bronze
medal in the event at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games local girl, Donna
MacFarlane won the 3000 metres steeplechase at Briggs#18 in 2007 in
9.34.91. No other woman has run faster in Australia since.
17. MacFarlane is the only
Tasmanian who currently holds a Briggs meet record – although Hamish
Peacock will be one keen to change that at Briggs#25 when he competes
in the javelin. His PB of 81.14m is slightly superior to Chinese thrower
Qinggang Zhao’s mark of 80.77m set last year.
18. The men’s long jump has been
seldom seen on the meet’s schedule but it returns for Briggs#25 with the
field led by new generation Tim McGuire and Angus Gould set to
challenge Olympic silver medallist, Jai Taurima’s meet record of 7.79m
set at Briggs#12.
19. Australian Sport Commission
CEO, Simon Hollingsworth was one of the local stars who used the Briggs
to establish himself on the national scene. One of Tasmania’s finest he
will be acknowledged at Briggs#25 as one of 27 Tasmanians recently
allocated a national representation bib by Athletics Australia. Each
will be presented by Athletics Tasmania with a framed replica of their
20. Now senator, Nova Peris
commenced her transition from Olympic hockey gold medallist to
Commonwealth Games 200 metres champion at Briggs#11 with fourth placings
in both the 100 and 200 metres behind Mel G-T.
21. 2006 Commonwealth Games hero, the late Kerryn McCann won the 3000 metres at Briggs#14 in 2000 in 8:56.42.
22. The smaller throws cage near
the 1500 metres start at the Domain was originally installed for the
Briggs at the request of then national throws coach John Zanfirache who
believed the Derwent breeze would provide ideal conditions for discus
throwers. He proved correct with a series of big winning distances over
the next ten years. Current Australian women’s heavyweight boxing
champion, Lisa Marie Vizaniari won three times with a best result of
64.16 metres at Briggs#14.
23. The men’s 5000 metres has been a feature race
of the meet since its revival in 2006 at Briggs#17. Collis Birmingham
has ruled the event – winning all six he contested and setting the
current meet record of 13:15.57 in 2012, having made his Briggs debut at
800 metres! Louis Rowan (Briggs#17) and the favourite for this year’s
race Ben St Lawrence (Briggs#22) are the only two other winners of the
race. Fourth placed behind Rowan was a little-known visitor from Great
Britain – a certain Mo Farah.
24. Briggs#25 will celebrate the
meet’s silver anniversary in style with a bumper weekend of athletics
including the Little Athletics Tasmania State Relay Championships
(including the inaugural “Swedish relays”) leading into the meet on
Saturday, the IAAF Race Walk Challenge on Castray Esplanade on Sunday
morning and international seminars on race walk judging and coaching
beginning on Thursday.
25. Michael Marantelli who ran the
boundary in the 2014 AFL Grand Final will make his national series
debut in the 1500 metres at the Briggs#25 in 2014.
With thanks to Brian Roe, the Executive Director at Athletics Tasmania