Australia’s premiere distance race, the Zatopek:10, will be contested on Thursday night at Melbourne Olympic Park. With exciting fields in both the men’s and women’s races, the 2009 edition will once again host the Australian 10,000m championship and is the Commonwealth Games selection trial for the event.
In the men’s race, four Australian Flame team members will go head-to-head in the field of 24 from around Australia and includes two Tanzanian guests.
Current Australian 10,000m record-holder and 2007 Zatopek winner Collis Birmingham has had a terrific year and appears to be the man to beat, however he comes up against 2008 winner David McNeill and marathon men Martin Dent and Mark Tucker.
If Birmingham, who was the first Australian over the line behind Austria’s Guenther Werdlinger in the Great Australian Run over 15km, runs anywhere near his personal best time of 27:29.73 (set in April this year) he will easily be inside the Commonwealth Games A-qualifying time of 28:05.00.
Defending champion McNeill placed second overall in the NCAA Cross County Championships run over 10km in November and looks in good shape to take it right up to Birmingham. World championships marathon representatives Tucker and Dent will make a return to the 10,000m distance after placing second at Zatopek in 2004 and 2007 respectively.
Other names to look out for are Kane Wille, recently home from Japan where he ran the 10km leg in the Chiba Ekiden Relay, Liam Adams, who would love to add the main event to his 3000m U20 victory in 2005 at this meet, Michael Shelley and Ben St Lawrence.
National Event Developer (Distance) Tim O’Shaughnessy noted that “in the 2006 Commonwealth Games we didn’t have a representative in the men’s 10km event, but in 2010 we are looking to have up to three if we can, which is a great turnaround.”
The women’s event this year boasts a particularly strong field, the favourites including Nikki Chapple, Benita Willis, Lara Tamsett and Lisa Weightman.
Great Australian Run winner Chapple, who is looking to secure a berth at the Commonwealth Games in this event, will need to run a personal best if she is going to post an A-qualifying performance of 32:10.00.
Four-time Olympian and runner-up in the Great Australian Run, Willis will certainly take the opportunity to challenge Chapple who ran away from her in the Great Australian Run and is a stalwart of the Australian track. She, along with world cross country representative Tamsett and Beijing Olympian and world championships marathon specialist Weightman, will be strong contenders for the Australian 10,000m championship, which looks to be a race that will be decided in the last lap.
O’Shaughnessy is excited by the group: “the girls are really on the improve and ideally I would love to fill the three spots up for grabs for both the men’s and women’s events at the Commonwealth Games," he said.
“It is the best field we’ve had for a number of years. The significant thing is the depth we have this year."
The Zatopek:10, first run in 1961, is the oldest named distance running meet in the world. In its 49th year the Zatopek:10, named in honour of the great Czech distance runner Emil Zatopek, will again stamp itself as the premier distance meet on the Australian calendar with its strong fields and long history of great winners including Steve Moneghetti, Rob de Castella, Lee Troop, Kerryn McCann and Craig Mottram.
Make sure not to miss the action on Thursday night (December 10) at Melbourne Olympic Park.
For more details visit the Athletics Victoria website.
For venue access and media accreditation for Zatopek:10, please contact Athletics Victoria PR & Communication Officer Tom Nickson (email@example.com or (03) 9428 8195) with your name, organisation, contact email, contact telephone number, and function (print journalist, photographer, broadcast etc).
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