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PREVIEW | Australia to Embrace the Elements at 2024 World Cross Country Championships

Published Thu 28 Mar 2024

Australia’s 20-strong team for the 2024 World Athletics Cross Country Championships has touched down in Belgrade, Serbia as the clock ticks down to Saturday’s racing action, with Patrick Tiernan and Paige Campbell to lead the way in one of the toughest distance running showdowns of the year.

Following on from the success of 2023’s installment of the championships in Bathurst, Australia the team features a mix of youth and experience, with athletes selected across Open and Under 20 events to take on the world’s established and rising stars from 9:00pm AEDT, Saturday March 30.

When it comes to racing the global giants of distance running, seldom are Australians bolder in their approach than Patrick Tiernan (QLD, Alistair & Amy Cragg). The two-time Olympian has a strong track record at the World Cross Country Championships after recording a 13th place finish in 2017’s Kampala edition, with the early-season contest in the Men’s 10km event set to bolster his Paris credentials.

Racing once in 2024 when nailing an Olympic qualifier of 2:07:45 in the marathon, strength will not be an issue for Tiernan who will be joined by Australian team debutant Haftu Strintzos (VIC, Craig Mottram) who punched his ticket to Belgrade when winning the Australian Trial, along with Liam Adams (VIC, Ken Hall) who lines up for his ninth World Cross Country Championships appearance.

“This race offers a pretty unique opportunity to be able to compete with some of the best in the world over a tough and grinding course, which my team and I believe will be a really good form of preparation for the middle section of the Olympics marathon course. It will definitely be a good test of where I’m at!” Tiernan said.

Racing in a field featuring world record holder and Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) and defending champion Jacob Kiplimo (UGA), Tiernan will pave the way for the likes of Edward Marks (VIC, Collis Birmingham), Zach Faccioni (VIC, Craig Mottram) and Andre Waring (VIC, Steve Dinneen) as the top four finishers from each country combine for a team score:

“It’s a very rare opportunity to compete as a team in this sport, especially for Australia. The great part of the team component is even if you’re having a bit of a rough day individually, there’s still something to fight for in the latter stages of the race, so it’ll just give everyone that extra bit of motivation,” Tiernan said.

“On both the Under 20’s and Open sides of the team there seems to be a good energy amongst everyone, and it’ll be great to see us all put our best foot forward on Saturday for Australia.”

A small but strong Australian contingent of two will take to the Women’s 10km, as Paige Campbell (NSW, Dick Telford) and Melissa Duncan (VIC, self coached) return to the green and gold, having finished 29th and 26th placings respectively in 2019’s championships in Aarhus.

Stating her intentions of a top-20 finish in Belgrade, Campbell will run with confidence in the unpredictable event characterised by challenging course features and unforgiving conditions, as defending champion Beatrice Chebet (KEN) looks to make it nine straight wins for the East African nation.

The next generation of Australian distance stars will be in action in the Under 20 Men’s 8km and Under 20 Women’s 6km, with a capacity contingent of 12 selected led by Australian trial winners Jack Coomber (Jayden Russ) and Gabrielle Schmidt (Kerry Schreiber).

With the junior teams making up eight of the 10 debutants in Australia’s team of 20, the developing prospects will gain their first taste of the international stage in their budding careers as they follow in the footsteps of Australia’s rich distance running legacy.

The 2024 World Athletics Cross Country Championships can be viewed via World Athletics’ ‘Inside Track’, with a schedule of races on Saturday March 30 available below:

(9:00pm AEDT / 11:00am Local) Women’s U20 6km:

Gabrielle Schmidt (QLD, Kerry Schreiber)
Charli-Rose Carlyon (WA, Dick Telford)
Emma de Jong (VIC, Karen Moir) – debut
Sienna Bush (QLD, Melanie Black) – debut
Gretta Johnson (QLD, Chris Gale & Lizel Moore) – debut
Alexandra Schulz (VIC, Liz Mathews) – debut

(9:35pm AEDT / 11:35am Local) Men’s U20 8km:

Jack Coomber (QLD, Jayden Russ)
Charlie Moore (QLD, Jayden Russ) – debut
Ky Hehir (WA, Matthew Ramsden)
Padraig Heffernan (QLD, Ben Norton) – debut
Seth Mahony (QLD, Jayden Russ) – debut
Logan Tickell (VIC, Andrew Buchanan) – debut

(10:45pm AEDT / 12:45pm Local) Women’s Senior 10km:

Paige Campbell (NSW, Dick Telford)
Melissa Duncan (VIC, self-coached)

(11:30pm AEDT / 1:30pm Local) Men’s Senior 10km:

Patrick Tiernan (QLD, Alistair & Amy Cragg)
Haftu Strintzos (VIC, Craig Mottram) – debut
Liam Adams (VIC, Ken Hall)
Zach Facioni (VIC, Craig Mottram)
Edward Marks (VIC, Collis Birmingham) – debut
Andre Waring (VIC, Steve Dinneen)

By Lachlan Moorhouse, Athletics Australia
Posted: 28/3/2024