This article originally appeared on athletics.org.au – home of Athletics Australia: http://www.athletics.com.au/News/t54-marathon-preview-golden-prospects
T54 Marathon Preview: Golden Prospects
Men T54 Marathon
The Australian T54 Men’s marathon team features two athletes with five Paralympic campaigns, two Commonwealth Games appearances and five Para World Championship trips between them. With that long list of achievements, Kurt Fearnley (NSW) and Jake Lappin (VIC) have established themselves throughout the last decade as two of the most dominant wheelchair racers in Australia.
25-year old Lappin will make his major championship marathon debut on the Gold Coast, looking to build upon a career that has included a Paralympic Bronze in 2012 in the 4x100m relay, and a 10th place finish in the 1500m event at the 2017 London World Para Athletics Championships. With four Para World Championships (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017), two Paralympic Games (2012, 2016) and one Commonwealth Games (2010) under his belt, Lappin will prove a fascinating newcomer to the international marathons.
Australian Paralympic stalwart Kurt Fearnley has a phenomenal resume, having collected fourteen Paralympic medals across his career, alongside two Commonwealth medals. Fearnley enters the event ranked 2nd with a time of 1:20:28 behind Ernst Francois van Dyk (RSA), who is not listed as competing.
Fearnley’s thirty-five career marathon wins place him in good stead to add more gold to an already substantial collection.
International competition is set to be provided by Alexandre Dupont (Canada), ranked 5th in the Commonwealth as a 1:31:27 marathoner. Simon Lawson (England) enters the race with two top fifteen finishes at the 2016 Paralympic Games (14th) and the 2015 Para World Championships (10th).
Women T54 Marathon
Making a Commonwealth Games event debut in 2018, Australia will be represented in the T54 Women’s wheelchair marathon by Eliza Ault-Connell (NSW) and Madison De Rozario (WA).
Ault-Connell previously represented Australia at the 2002 and 2006 editions of the Commonwealth Games, taking 3rd and 2nd respectively in the 800m event. Between those races, Ault-Connell secured a silver at the 2004 Paralympic Games 800m and silver and bronze medals at the 2002 and 2006 World Para Athletics Championships over 400m and 800m.
With this impressive international resume, Ault-Connell now takes on a new challenge as she makes her major championship marathon debut on the Gold Coast.
Three-time Paralympian De Rozario is arguably Western Australia’s best para-athletics competitor and is highly favoured to medal here. She comes into the Gold Coast Games ranked number one with a personal best of 1:39:22 over the marathon distance.
With a medal cabinet home to three Paralympic and six World Para Athletics championship medals, the 24-year old approaches the Commonwealth Games with the potential to add more silverware to the collection.
As a debut event, international competition is strong, with Diane Roy (Canada) the Games Record holder in the 1500m (3:52.83). Roy has a marathon best of 1:40:37, held the 5000m world record from 2010-2015, and arrives in Australia with a 1:44:08 seasons best. Jade Jones (England) ranks 3rd (1:41:44), whilst Samantha Kinghorn (Scotland) is ranked 4th (1:43:52) with the depth highlighting the lure of Commonwealth gold.