With the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland less than one week away we continue our previews of the 54-strong Australian Team that will take on the world’s best U20 athletes from 10-15 July.
Australia will be represented in all mens throws events as well as the long jump, with five of the eight athletes making their international debut.
Men’s Shot Put – NSW training partners chasing World Final
New South Wales throwers Aiden Harvey and Alexander Kolesnikoff will take to the shot put circle on the first session of competition on 10 July. Both are coached by David Bruce and will be aiming to qualify for the final in the evening session that same day.
Harvey, 19, from Kurri Kurri in the NSW Hunter and now studying at Sydney University, has made huge progress with the 6kg shot in the past four years. He threw 19.36m in May to move to No.5 on the Australian All-time U20 rankings. He threw another lifetime best of 19.42m in Germany in late June.
Kolesnikoff, 18, won the 2017 Commonwealth Youth shot put title after finishing fourth in the discus. He will contest both events in Tampere and goes into the World U20s with a recent personal best of 19.74 from the same meet in Germany last month where his compatriot threw a personal best.
Kolesnikoff is ranked 13th and Harvey 17th on 2018 performances with the world leader being South African Kyle Bignaut with 21.75m.
Australia has an impressive record in this event at the World U20s. Justin Anlezark (QLD) and Clay Cross (NSW) won the silver and bronze respectively in 1996 and Damien Birkinhead (VIC) won silver in 2012 with the Australian U20 Record throw of 21.14m.
Schmidtchen and Branco ready for Tampere take-off
Zane Branco (QLD) and Ben Schmidtchen (QLD) will leap into action on the first morning of the championships in the long jump qualification, with their sights set on the final on Wednesday evening (11 July local time)
Branco, 18, has the heaviest program of any Australian male at the World U20s, contesting the long jump, 200m and 4x100m relay. Born and raised in America, participating in Little Athletics on the Sunshine Coast was his entry into the sport. By age 15, he was already over seven metres in the long jump. A tremendous 2017/18 season improved his long jump to 7.61m and he also equalled the Australian U18 200m record of 20.90 held by Olympians Darren Clark and Paul Greene.
Schmidtchen comes into the World U20s in great form having jumped a best of 7.75m on the weekend to become the ninth best junior in Australian history and ranked 10th for the World U20s. The 18-year-old got a taste of international competition when he placed second in the long jump at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games. The talented all-round jumper, coach by Gary Bourne, came close to qualifying in triple jump for Tampere.
The field will be red hot with three U20 jumpers going over eight metres in 2018, led by Cuban Maykel Vidal. Schmidtchen is 10th and Branco 31st on 2018 performances.
Australia has a great history in this event. Robbie Crowther (QLD) won the World U20s in 2006, Fabrice Lapierre (NSW) the silver in 2002, John Thornell (NSW) bronze in 2004 and Darcy Roper (QLD) bronze in 2016.
It’s Hammer time for Joycey
The time has come for hammer thrower James Joycey to show what he can do in the green and gold. The Victorian made huge progress over the 2017/18 season to improve his personal best from 63.18m to 70.81m and become only the fifth Australian teenager to beat the 70m mark. Despite fouling all three attempts at Trials Joycey was selected for his first Australian Team.
The 18-year-old moved his full attention from the shot put to the hammer only 18 months ago. He is self-coached with a lot of support from his dad who he credits as the biggest influence on his career thus far. He will start at the University of Nebraska in August.
Joycey has thrown 70.03m in Finland during his preparation, which ranks him 26th in the world for 2018. He will be looking for another big personal best in qualification on the morning of day two (Wednesday, 11 July) to try and reach the final in the evening of day 4 (Friday, 13 July).
The Australian is ranked 26th on 2018 performances with Hristos Frantzeskais from Greece leading the way with 81.32m.
Aaron Fish (QLD) won Australia’s first medal in this event with bronze in 2000. The next best performances have been Simon Wardhaugh (QLD) fifth in 2004 and Ned Weatherly (VIC) seventh in 2016. The Australian U20 6kg record of 80.48m was set by Matthew Denny (QLD) in 2015
Lowis and McEntyre ready for Javelin contest in Tampere
Nash Lowis (QLD) and Cameron McEntyre (NSW) will get their chance to unleash the javelin in qualification on day four (Friday, 13 July) of the championships. The final scheduled for the following evening (Saturday, 14 July).
Lowis made huge progress across the 2017/18 season improving his best from 64m to 71.24m in February. The 18-year-old from Townsville only started the sport in 2014. The exciting talent coached by Leslye Muller finished second at the trials behind McEntrye and did enough to earn selection.
Unlike Lowis, McEntyre has been involved in athletics for 14 years starting out at Ku-ring-gai Little Athletics in Sydney.
For the 19-year-old this is his second time in the green and gold having competed at the World Youth (U18s) in 2015. That trip didn’t go to plan and he had to get surgery on his torn rotator cuffs upon return to Australia.
After a year of rehabilitation, he then successfully moved up the 800g implement and started the 2017/18 season with a World U20s qualifier and victory at the Australian University Games with 69.89m. He nudged his best up to 70.63m over the summer and importantly won the close three-way battle at the U20 Trials. Before departing for Finland he threw a 70.80m personal best to show his is ready for the championships.
South African Anro Van Eeden has the best U20 throw for 2018 with 77.59m. Lowis is ranked 18th with his 71.24m and McEntyre 24th 70.80m.
Commonwealth Games representative Luke Cann (WA) made the final in 2012 before throwing the Australian U20 Record (800g) of 76.58m in 2013.
Steve Madeo (VIC) won bronze in this event at the 1996 World U20s in Sydney. The next best performances have been fourth to Jarrod Bannister (QLD) in 2002 and Joshua Robinson (QLD) 2004.
Aussies looking to deliver discus personal bests
Conor McLoughlin (QLD) will need to wait until day five (Saturday, 14 July) of the Championships before he gets his chance to impress in discus qualification. He’ll be joined by Alexander Kolesnikoff (NSW) who will have contested the shot put on day one.
McLoughlin from Toowoomba was approached by leading throws coach Grahame Pitt eight years ago and from there he has developed into a great all-round thrower who will make his debut on the world stage in the discus in Tampere. Pitt is the coach of Matthew Denny (QLD) who was fourth at the World U20s in 2014, and later that year set the Australian record of 66.81m before his senior success.
McLoughlin set a personal best, and another qualifier, of 57.75m to win the Trials in March and secure selection. Kolesnikoff didn’t have a qualifying mark leading in to the Trials but produced a PB of 56.64m when it mattered most, to earn selection for two events in Tampere. Last weekend in Finland, Kolesnikoff confirmed his top form by raising his PB to 57.49m.
Two U20 athletes have thrown over 66 metres in 2018, while McLoughlin is ranked 30th and Kolesnikoff 34th.
Werner Reiterer (VIC) won silver at the first World U20s in 1986 and Julian Wruck (QLD) won bronze in 2010.
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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