Australia will be represented in five of the women’s field events – javelin, pole vault, discus, long jump, hammer throw - at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland from 10-15 July. Six of the seven athletes will be competing at their first international major meet in the green and gold, as part of the 54-strong Australian Team. We look at each of these outstanding athletes in our preview of these events.
Javelin - Aussie women ready for Tampere pressure
Lara Ilievski (WA) and Alexandra Roberts (QLD) will open the account for the Australian women in the field during the morning session on day one (Tuesday, 10 July) of competition. Both women are aiming for a personal best, and a place in the final on the evening of day two (Wednesday, 11 July) would be a huge bonus.
This is an Australian Team debut for Ilievski, who turned 18 just last month. However, she showed at the Trials she can deliver under pressure. Coming into the meet she was short of the 50m qualifying standard. And then after solid opening throws she unleashed a 52.08m throw in the fifth round to win the Trials and secure her ticket to Tampere - only three months after graduating fulltime to the heavier 600g implement.
Coached by Grant Ward in Perth, who guided Kim Mickle’s fantastic career, Ilievski threw 49.38m last week in Germany in the build up to next week’s championships.
Roberts, who is only 17 and young enough to compete at the 2020 World U20s, has the experience from the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games to draw on. In the Bahamas she was fourth, missing the bronze medal on a countback.
The Brisbane-based thrower was just short of the 50m qualifier ahead of the U20 Trials in March and surpassed it twice when she needed to. Her 50.55m was enough for second and selection for the Australian U20 Team. In Mannheim last week she reached 49.95m, so is in near personal best form.
Annabel Thompson (NSW) won bronze at the 2004 World U20s and the next best Australian performances have been 9th to Wasie Toolis (QLD) in 2012 and Mickle (WA) in 2002. Mackenzie Little (NSW) set the Australian Record of 57.60m in 2014. Japan’s Yuka Kuwazoe leads the U20 rankings for 2018 with a throw of 56.86m. Ilievski is ranked 27th (52.08m) and Roberts is 42nd (50.55m).
Pole Vault - Hyde-Cooling looks to continue WA vaulting legacy
Western Australia has produced sensational pole vaulters over the years and Lauren Hyde-Cooling is looking to be the next. Nina Kennedy (WA) holds the Australian U20 record at 4.59m. Vicky Parnov (WA) won U20s bronze in 2006 and then sister Liz Parnov (WA) won silver in 2012.
Hyde-Cooling is coached by Paul Burgess (WA), who not only won the World U20s in 1998, after finishing with silver in Sydney in 1996, he is also a triple Olympian, dual Commonwealth Games medallist and a member of the prestigious 6 metre club.
No doubt her coaches’ advice and hard work played a big part in her achieving the 4.05m qualifying standard in November. At the U20 Trials she improved to 4.06m and won the competition by 46cm.
The 18-year-old started pole vaulting in 2013 and one year later had cleared 3.50m and won the Australian All Schools aged 14. She has continued with steady improvement each year.
Hyde-Cooling competes during the afternoon session on day one (Tuesday, 10 July), attempting to qualify for the final in the evening of day three (Thursday, 11 July).
Her 4.06m from March has her ranked 18th on the world U20 rankings for 2018. She has said she wants a top 10 finish in Finland. Sweden’s Lisa Gunnersson, who was seventh at the World U20s in 2016, has set the standard in 2018 with 4.60m.
Long Jump - Nothing can stop Brennan from flying in Finland
ACT long jumper Grace Brennan nailed her qualifiers for the World U20 team at the Commonwealth Games Trials in February. She jumped two personal bests over the standard with 6.17m in qualifying and 6.20m in the final. After a summer injury, the 18-year-old started her build up to the World U20s with a promising 5.91m in Australia before she departed.
On tour in Europe she has had the support of her coach Philip Alchin as she prepares for her international debut. She also has a handy 200m personal best of 24.58s.
Brennan is aiming for the long jump final in the evening of day four (Friday, 13 July). To qualify for Friday the 13th she’ll jump in qualification on the morning of day three (Thursday, 12 July).
World U18 champion from 2015 and U20 Pan American Champion (2017) Tara Davis (USA) leads the world U20 rankings by 26cm with her 6.71m leap from last month. Brennan is ranked 41st in the world for U20s with her personal bests of 6.20m from February.
No Australian has won a medal in this event at the World U20s. Jacinta Boyd (QLD) was fourth in 2004, after placing sixth in 2002.
Discus Throw – Age no saga for Kia
Talosaga Kia (QLD) is the youngest member of the Australian U20 Team in Tampere. She will be just 16 years, 10 months and 5 days when she throws in discus qualification in the afternoon session on day one (10 July). The final is in the evening on day 3 (12 July).
In an event where Australia has a lot of depth, the Mike Moore-coached athlete won the Australian U20 Championships/Trials with a personal best of 50.68m to secure automatic selection.
“I am so happy and proud that I can finally do what I love on an international level and show everyone that I can do it,” Kia, whose nickname is Saga, said.
When she first started Little Athletics she was a sprinter and then after a break she tried Little As again and found the throws were her passion. The talent all-round thrower overcame a disc injury and started to make rapid progress in the discus in the summer of 2017 with her best now at 45.57m.
In the summer of 2017/18 Kia was chasing the World U20s standard of 48 metres. She was close in December and January but in February she unleashed a throw of 50.30m before another personal best of 50.68m at Trials in March.
Her hero Dani Stevens, nee Samuels, competed at two World Juniors and set the Australian U20 Record of 60.63m when she won the World U20 title in Beijing in 2006. Other Australian medallists in this event are Lisa-Marie Vizaniari (ACT) silver in 1990 and Kirsty Williams (QLD) silver in 2016.
Kia’s 50.68m personal best ranks her 40th of the U20 throwers in 2018. Alexandrea Emelianova from Moldova will start as favourite. The World U18 champion from 2015 and bronze medallist from the U20 Championships in 2016 has a best for 2018 of 60.24m.
Last week in Mannheim Kia spun the discus out to 50.56m, just below her personal best, indicating she is in top form as the championships approach. She will gain so much from the Tampere experience and is young enough to compete at the U20s again in 2020.
Hammer Throw - Hester and Mendes in top form for Tampere
Caitlyn Hester (QLD) and Louise Mendes (VIC) will hurl the hammer from the Tampere cage in qualification on morning of day three (12 July) to try and reach the final on the evening of day five (14 July).
Both girls go into the U20 Championships in top form, improving their personal bests in recent weeks. Mendes reached 58.16m in Townsville in June, while Hester hit 58.31m over the weekend in Finland. They are ranked in the top-50 in the U20 world rankings for 2018. Alyssa Wilson (USA) has set the huge top standard of 66.99m.
Mendes, a Commerce/Law student at Deakin University,, has been winning national titles in throws since she was nine. Six years ago she started the hammer for strength training and soon embraced the event. From 2015 to 2018 she improved by over 16 metres with coach Demetri Dionisopoulos. She had one qualifying standard (57m) going into the U20 Trials and achieved two more and the win to secure automatic selection in March.
Caitlyn Hester, 18, from Beaudesert in Queensland has followed a similar path to Mendes. She was primarily a shot put and discus thrower at Little Athletics and in 2012, at the suggestion of her coach Des Davis, she gave hammer a try and knew it was the event for her. Over the past four years she has improved by almost 14 metres, with the 4kg implement.
Going into the trials, Hester had a qualifying standard from the QLD Championships and she placed a solid second at trials to confirm her place on the team.
Commonwealth Games medallist Alex Hulley (NSW) is Australia’s best performer in this event. She won silver at the 2016 World U20s and earlier that year set the Australian Record of 65.75m.
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
Stay up to date
Athletics Australia will cover #tampere2018 live on Twitter with a daily summary and features on other social channels.
Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube
Eurosport Australia will televise the IAAF World U20 Championships
IAAF World Under 20 Championships News and Official Results