The Australian U20 Athletics Team has produced arguably the best medal result at a World U20 Championships and the best overall team performance since 1996, as competition concluded in Tampere, Finland overnight.
Australia finished with five medals, two gold and three silver, to be placed seventh on the medal table ahead of Germany, China and France. Kenya topped the medal table with six gold and 11 medals in total.
On only two occasions in 32 years has Australia won more medals, when we hosted in Sydney in 1996 (10 medals - 1G, 2S, 7B) and Plovdiv, Bulgaria 1990 (6 medals - 2G 2S 2B). The teams in 2012 (Barcelona, Spain) and 1992 (Seoul, Korea) also achieved five medals.
On the Championships placing table, which shows the depth of a nation’s results by awarding 8 points for 1st place and 1 point for 8th, Australia finished on 71 points, ranked eighth.
The placing table confirms this is the best overall team performance since 1996, at the warm-up track for the Sydney Olympics - just four years away.
The United States topped the place table in Tampere with 155 points. They won the most medals with 18 but surprisingly only three gold.
In total Australia had 15 top-8 performances of which 5 were medals and 10 were top-5 (full details below).
All athletes and coaches work towards a personal best on the world stage. Of the 54 team members, 18 athletes set 32 individual personal bests. When including the the relays, 27 athletes (50 per cent of team) contributed to a total of 37 individual bests across the six days of competition.
Ashley Moloney set three new championship decathlon event bests in the 100m, high jump, 400m and his total score of 8,190 points was a championship record.
He also broke the Australian record held by his Olympian training partner Cedric Dubler. Other new Australian U20 records were set by Declan Tingay (WA) in the 10,000m walk breaking Olympic medallist Dane Bird-Smith’s mark. And the women’s 4x100m relay team broke the record set in 2004 (full details below).
Athletics Australia Head Coach Craig Hilliard was on hand in Finland supporting the U20 Team.
“This has been an excellent world championships for our aspiring Under-20 athletes accruing five medals, 15 top 8’s and 18 athletes with individual personal bests. This is clearly Australia’s best overall result since hosting in 1996 and demonstrates the success of the junior program and impact it has had on the coaches and athletes.
“Most impressive was the manner in which the athletes conducted themselves, and the personal coaches and the management team should be congratulated on how the team was prepared.
“I am excited about the future prospects of a number of athletes and will be monitoring closely their progression and transition to senior ranks.”
Athletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher was thrilled with the Australian U20 Team in Tampere, Finland.
“For this group of athletes to have the best team performance by a World U20s team since 1996, is simply outstanding,” Gocher said.
“Special thanks to all of the team members and support staff who represented Australia. You should all be very proud. And to the medallists, top-8 finishers, new record holders and those who produced personal bests - a huge congratulations.
“It was very pleasing to see the athletes on social media thanking their coaches, family and friends for their support in getting to Tampere, and also generally how much they enjoyed their experience, in what was for many their first Australian Team.”
Jardy Clifford (VIC) created his own piece of history when he became the first Australian Paralympian to compete at an able-bodied athletics world championships. His 1500m heat time of 3:47.77 was faster than he ran to win the Trials, as he finished the championships ranked 14th overall.
"I tried to showcase what the Paralympics are all about and that's getting in there and having a real crack,” Clifford, who was born with a degenerative eye condition, said.
"I felt like I did my best out there and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am so happy with being able to do that."
Team walks coach Brent Vallance deserves a special mention with all three 10,000m walkers finishing in the top 8: Declan Tingay 4th, Katie Hayward 5th and Kyle Swan 6th. Vallance is the personal coach of Swan, while Steve Langley coaches Hayward. Tingay, who broke Dane Bird-Smith’s Australian record, is coached by his dad.
This Team will now strive for senior Australian teams with the Doha 2019 World Championships, 2019 World University Games in Naples, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Eugene 2021 World Championships and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games all in the next four years.
Australian medallists at Tampere 2018:
Gold – Ashley Moloney (QLD) – decathlon *
Gold – Nash Lowis (QLD) – men’s javelin *
Silver – Gary Haasbroek (VIC) – decathlon *
Silver – Carley Thomas (NSW) – women’s 800m
Silver – Ella Connolly (QLD), Cara Jardine (QLD), Jemima Russell (VIC), Carley Thomas (NSW) – women’s 4x400m relay
This was the first time Australia has gone 1-2 in the same event at a major championship since the Mexico 1968 Olympic Games. It is also the first gold medal in the decathlon and men’s javelin at a World U20s.
New Australian Records:
Ashley Moloney (QLD) - Decathlon - 8190 points
(Prev: Cedric Dubler (QLD) - 8.094 pts (13/07/2014)
Declan Tingay (WA) - 10,000m Race Walk - 40:49.72
(Prev: Dane Bird-Smith (QLD) - 41:02.18 (12/03/2011)
Women’s 4x100m Relay women - 44.78 seconds (Nana Owusu-Afiyie VIC, Kristie Edwards NSW, Samantha Johnson QLD, Mia Gross VIC)
(Prev: 44.86 (Jacinta Boyd QLD, Sally Pearson QLD, Michelle Cutmore QLD, Rebecca Negus QLD) from 17/07/2004.
4th - 8th placings
4th - Ella Connolly (QLD) 400m 52.82
4th - Declan Tingay (WA) 10,000 Metres Race Walk 40:49.72 PB [Australian U20 record]
5th - Celeste Mucci Heptathlon 5865 pts
5th - Zane Branco 200m 20.86
5th - Katie Hayward 10,000 Metres Race Walk 45:10.42 PB
6th - Amelia Mazza-Downie 3000m 9:09.19 PB
6th - Kyle Swan 10,000 Metres Race Walk 41:24.12 PB
7th - Aiden Harvey Shot 19.85m PB
7th - Nana Owusu-Afiyie (VIC), Kristie Edwards (NSW), Samantha Johnson (QLD), Mia Gross (VIC) - women’s 4x100m relay (44.78, New AUS U20 Rec)
7th - Adam Kopp (WA), Christian Davis (VIC), Harvey Murrant (VIC), Ashley Moloney (QLD) - men’s 4x400m relay (3:09.31)
View the complete AUS results summary, session by session
Andrew Reid for Athletics Australia
Superlatives and statistics by David Tarbotton