A strong Australian team will line-up for the 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships, May 5 – 6 in Taichang, China.
Dane Bird-Smith (Qld), Michael Hosking (Vic), Rhydian Cowley (Vic), Adam Garganis (Vic) and Brendon Reading (ACT) will line up in the men’s 20km event while in the women’s 20km event Beki Smith (NSW), Jemima Montag (Vic) and Rachel Tallent (Vic) have been selected.
Claire Tallent (SA) will compete in the 50km event - her first attempt at the distance.
Australia came away from the World Race Walking Team Championships in 2016 with three medals – gold in the 50 Kilometres Race Walk for Jared Tallent, silver in the open women’s 20km event and bronze in the junior girls’ 10km race – and there’s little doubt that athletes heading to China will be looking to emulate the feats.
Bird-Smith, Garganis and Smith all came away with then career-best performances in Rome. For Bird-Smith the event was his first time posting sub-80minutes for the 20km, finishing fourth in 1:19:38. The result paved the way for his bronze medal at the Rio Olympics and the Queenslander is hopeful that the event will set him up nicely for the Commonwealth Games.
"This is a huge event for the walkers, it rivals world championships and actually boasts a way bigger field with five competitors per country,” he said. "Commonwealth Games is a huge priority this year but backing up to take on the world threats over in China is a seriously awesome challenge. Over the years I have developed a rivalry and a reputation amongst the consistently impressive Chinese athletes and I am so keen to get amongst it and see what they are bringing this year to their home championship."
Bird-Smith battled illness at the recent Australian 20km Race Walking Championships, still coming up trumps with the gold medal. He admits that while below his best then, he’s expecting to be back at full-strength in China.
"After a pretty poor start to the season due to illness I’m certainly out for a bit of redemption, not that I need more motivation – I’m already pumped for this season! Everyone internationally knows how strong I will be when I’m healthy and they shouldn't underestimate me based on recent results."