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25 things to know about Australia's oldest circuit meet

Author: IMGSTG Admin/Wednesday, 29 January 2014/Categories: All News, Latest News, Events, Sprints, Middle Distance, Long Distance, Relays, Walks, Jumps, Throws, Hurdles, Combined Events

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 “bib”.

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


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Athletics Australia
Athletics House
Level 2, 31 Aughtie Drive
Albert Park  VIC 3206

P +61 3 8646 4550
F +61 3 8646 4560