Photo Celeste Mucci at Townsville training camp
With only one week until the IAAF World U20 Championships commence in Tampere, Finland, the excitement is building for the 54 Australian representatives and everyone who has been part of their journey so far.
It is a talented team and from 10-15 July it’s a great opportunity to see how the future of our sport in Australia matches up against the world’s best U20 athletes. The signs look good for a strong showing after plenty of personal bests at pre-departure meets in Australia, and across Northern Europe in recent weeks.
The team includes athletes with Commonwealth Games, Paralympic Games, senior World Championship, World U18 and Commonwealth Youth Games experience.
Some of Australia’s greats made their mark at previous World U20s (formerly known as World Junior Championships) including Sally Pearson, Catherine Freeman, Tim Forsyth, Jana Pittman and Dani Stevens.
The competition will be fierce at this biennial event with medals and places in finals being incredibly competitive.
Since the first World U20s in Athens in 1986, Australian athletes have achieved 58 medals, in both individual and relay events from the previous 16 editions.
As we countdown to competition commencing on 10 July we will roll-out previews across the disciplines of track and field. For our first preview we’ll look at the multi-events and the Australians competing in the Decathlon and Heptathlon.
Decathlon Preview – Moloney and Haasbroek in Decathlon medal contention
Decathlon representatives Gary Haasbroek (VIC) and Ashley Moloney (QLD) will be the first Aussies on the track in the first of eleven sessions from the 10th of July, with the 100m to start their 10-event competition over two days.
Both athletes have continued solid improvements over recent years and were in superb form at the Australian U20 Championships/Trials in March. The duo produced several individual personal bests and also their top total scores in the close battle. Moloney took the title by only 17 points with his 7740pts moving him to No.3 on the Australian All-Time U20 list. Meanwhile, Haasbroek moved to No.4 (7723). Only World U20 silver medallists Cedric Dubler (8094pts, 2014) and Jake Stein (7951pts, 2012) have produced better U20 scores.
One of the athletes to beat will be Frenchman Steven Clinch who won the 2017 World Youth Championships with a score of 7559 points (U18 implements). Clinch and Moloney finished the year as joint world leaders on the same score.
Moloney, 18, trains with Dubler and is coached by Eric Brown in Brisbane while Haasbroek, 19, is coached by Steve Cain in Melbourne. The Victorian emigrated to Australia from South Africa in 2007 and has competed in three world junior trampolining championships, winning bronze medals in 2012 and 2013.
They go into the World U20s in Finland ranked 2nd and 3rd, behind Russian Stepan Kekin (7817pts).
Heptathlon Preview – Comm Games experience to drive Mucci in Tampere
Celeste Mucci (VIC) and Camryn Newton-Smith (QLD) will contest the Heptathlon on day 3 (12 July) and day 4 of the World U20s in Tampere.
Mucci, 18, has been an outstanding junior talent and also competed at the World U20s in 2016 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. She made her senior international debut at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April and handled the pressure brilliantly to produce four individual PBs and improve her overall personal best to 5915pts, to just miss a medal by 128 points.
The Australian U20 record holder trains in Melbourne with coach Darren Clark. Mucci is ranked No.5 on world U20 rankings going into the Championships, with Ukraine’s Alina Skukh top ranked with 6,177 pts.
Newtown-Smith, 18, started Little Athletics in the U6s and in the past four years has made consistent improvement in multi-events. In her second attempt at the heptathlon with senior implements she scored 5331 points to win the U20 Trials and book her place on her first international team. She is coached by Ralph Newton and also plays AFL.
Both Newtown-Smith and Mucci have been producing personal best performances in preparation meets.
Further event previews to come each day, as we countdown to Tampere 2018, 10-15 July.
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia
Statistics and superlatives David Tarbotton
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