AUSTRALIA will field its biggest track and field team since Sydney 2000 at next month’s Rio Games.
The final team was confirmed with 18 new additions to the initial squad which was named in April, bringing the number to 61 which includes 40 Olympic debutants.
There were 86 representatives in Sydney with Melbourne in 1956 having the next biggest team size of 76.
The largest “away” team is 62 at Atlanta in 1996 although the Rio contingent is a chance to go past it with possible additions under the new roll-down qualification system used by the track and field’s world governing body to ensure full fields at major championships.
While the loss of defending Olympic champion Sally Pearson hurts the team’s medal prospects, the depth across the board is the standout with Australia to have the maximum three competitors across 11 events.
For the first time since Sydney 2000 there is a female runner in every track event.
And in comparison with the Atlanta team, whose size was bolstered with four relay teams, there is only one going to Rio — the women’s 4x400m.
That features Australia’s youngest track and field athlete at the Games — 18-year-old Jessica Thornton — while the oldest is 40-year-old marathoner Scott Westcott.
“I’ve dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games since I was five years old,” Thornton said.
“To be only 18 and to have achieved it is something that I will never forget. I was genuinely speechless when I was told I’d been selected, knowing that all my training and dedication to the sport has paid off just made it so special.”
Another new face is South Australian pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall who is the sole representative in an event where Australia has a rich history.
“Australia has an amazing reputation in the pole vault with countless Olympians and world championships representative in the event,” Marschall said.
“I’ve had the privilege of speaking to several national representatives in the event and to continue the tradition that they started is an absolute honour and incredible opportunity.
“This is an opportunity that I aim to make the most of. To have the chance to represent my country at an open international event like this at the age of 19 is ridiculous.”
Other additions yesterday included Jeff Riseley, who is going to his third Olympics, and Peter Bol in the 800m with the pair selected ahead of Sydney’s Joshua Ralph.
In-form Ryan Gregson goes into the 1500m while in the women’s event Zoe Buckman comes in for the injured Melissa Duncan to join Linden Hall and Jenny Blundell.
|Joel Baden||20||Geelong, Vic||Drysdale, Vic||3222||High Jump||1st Games|
|Jenny Blundell||22||Sydney, NSW||Castle Hill, NSW||2154||1500m||1st Games|
|Peter Bol||22||Khartoum, Sudan||Hawthorn, Vic||3122||800m||1st Games|
|Melissa Breen||25||Canberra, ACT||Bruce, ACT||2617||100m||2nd Games|
|Monica Brennan||22||Melbourne, Vic||Watsonia, Vic||3087||4x400m Relay||1st Games|
|Zoe Buckman||27||Grafton, NSW||Glen Iris, VIC||3146||1500m||2nd Games|
|Matt Denny||20||Toowoomba, Qld||Allora, QLD||4362||Discus||1st Games|
|Ryan Gregson||26||Wollongong, NSW||Wollongong, NSW||2500||1500m||2nd Games|
|Linden Hall||25||Sunbury, Qld||Fitzroy North, Vic||3068||1500m||1st Games|
|Selma Kajan||25||Paddington, NSW||Ballarat, Vic||3350||800m||1st Games|
|Kurtis Marschall||19||North Adelaide, SA||Happy Valley, SA||5159||Pole Vault||1st Games|
|Sam McEntee||24||East Melbourne, Vic||Parkdale, Vic||3194||5000m||1st Games|
|Hamish Peacock||25||Hobart, Tas||Sandford, TAS||7020||Javelin||1st Games|
|Jeff Riseley||29||Dandenong, Vic||Harkaway, Vic||3806||800m||3rd Games|
|Josh Robinson||30||Brisbane, Qld||Coorparoo, Qld||4151||Javelin||1st Games|
|Caitlin Sargent||24||Brisbane, Qld||Toowong, Qld||4066||4x400m Relay||1st Games|
|Jessica Thornton||18||Randwick, NSW||Chifley, NSW||2036||4x400m relay||1st Games|
|Patrick Tiernan||21||Toowoomba, QLD||Toowoomba, QLD||4350||5000m||1st Games|