Women’s Long Distance Preview: In form with hunger for medals

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This article originally appeared on athletics.org.au – home of Athletics Australia: http://www.athletics.com.au/News/womens-long-distance-preview-in-form-with-hunger-for-medals

Women 5000m

Australians will have the opportunity to get to know a trio of distance stars set to grace the 5000m and 10,000m events, with Celia Sullohern (NSW), Madeline Hills (NSW) and Eloise Wellings(NSW) securing selection in both distance events.

Sullohern, a talented junior athlete, had spent numerous years out of the sport focusing on study, allowing time to deal with persistent injuries whilst enjoying success in triathlon,

The 25-year old last represented Australia in 2011, finishing 21st in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain.

The 2017/18 season represented a stunning return to competition as Sullohern was victorious in both the 5000m and 10000m trial, displaying a tenacious driving finish over the final 400 metres in each of the distances.

A season which has at times shocked even Sullohern herself saw her rocket to tenth on the Australian all-time list after a 2:29:27 marathon performance in Melbourne.

The Penrith-born athlete’s 15:34.42 5000m personal best is set to tumble against international competition.

Madeline Hills shares similarities with Sullohern, taking eight seasons out of the sport prior to the 2014 Glasgow Games.

The career pharmacist had trained seriously for six months prior to finishing fourth in the 3000m steeplechase in Glasgow.

Following 2014, Hills took to international competition with a vengeance, with heat appearances at the 2015 Beijing World Championships in the 5000m and 3000m steeplechase events, Hills recorded two top-ten finishes at the 2016 Rio Olympics (5000m & 3000m Steeplechase).

Hill backed up her international success with appearances in the 5000m and 10000m events at the 2017 London World Championships. she will enter the 5000m event with a personal best of 15:04.05, which ranks her fourth on the Australia all-time list.

Eloise Wellings has asserted herself since 2006 as one of Australia’s most reliable distance runners, with three Commonwealth Games appearances (2006, 2010, 2014), two Olympic appearances (2016, 2012) and two World Championship performances (2015 & 2017). 

A senior career highlighted by four top-six finishes at the Commonwealth Games and two top-ten finishes on the Olympic stage, the 19-time Australian representative ranks second all-time for 5000m, with a staggering personal best of 14:54.11.

Welling’s preparation for the Gold Coast has been conservative, racing at national championship events and pacing the Osaka International Ladies Marathon successfully.

Potential medal threats include reigning World Champion, Hellen Obiri (Kenya), ranked fifth all-time for the distance with a personal best of 14:18.37. Obiri also holds the Games Record for 1500m (4:04.43).

England will be throwing support behind Laura Weightman, as the 2014 Glasgow silver medallist in the 1500m moves up to 5000m and has a personal best of 15:08.24.

Women 10,000m

The 2017 Zatopek:10 was host to Australia’s fastest 10,000m athletes, as Celia Sullohern (NSW) stormed home after Jessica Trengove (SA) forced a torrid pace throughout the final four laps, as Eloise Wellings (NSW) took third.

Sullohern was spoilt for choice heading toward the 2018 Gold Coast Games, with qualifying performances in the 5000m, 10,000m and Marathon events.

Settling on the 5000m and 10000m races, Sullohern has a fantastic opportunity to improve upon her 32:31.22 personal best, and expect her to feature throughout the 25-lapper.

Madeline Hills (NSW) was the third athlete selected to represent Australia in the 10000m, ranked fifth on the Australian all-time list, the Melbourne-based athlete’s 31:41.10 personal best indicates substantial potential in a championship final.

Gaining momentum following early season nagging injuries, Hills has trained strongly throughout the second half of the domestic season and will be a familiar face to watch for as the 25-lap race progresses.

Eloise Wellings has demonstrated an impressive knack for tactical patience and a calm mental approach under great pressure, evident throughout her 2016 Rio Olympic Games performance, as the field was torn apart by a world record run by Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana, Wellings kept her cool and was rewarded with a tenth place finish and a personal best of 31:14.94. Wellings’ wise approach elevated her to third on the Australian all-time list.

Commonwealth athletes set to challenge for medals include top-ranked Ugandans Mercyline Chelangat (31:38.4, 2018) and Stella Chesang (31:39.0, 2018), both running personal bests at the Ugandan trials. Scotland will be well represented by Beth Potter, placing 5th in the Glasgow 2014 edition of the 10,000m event. Potter holds a personal best of 33:03.45 and will be joined by Diamond League regular, Eilish McColgan, a formidable athlete over 5000m and 10,000m with personal bests of 14:48.49 & 32:10.59 respectively.

Women 3000m Steeplechase

One Australian woman was selected at the 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games Trials, as two-time Olympian Victoria Mitchell (NSW) secured her third Commonwealth Games birth, following appearances in 2014 and 2006.

Subsequently, national record holder Genevieve LaCaze (QLD) was added to the team, after battling early-season foot injuries.

A name synonymous with steeplechase in Australia, Mitchell finished ninth (2014) and fourth (2006) in her two previous Commonwealth Games appearances, ranking fifth on the Australian all-time list, with a personal best of 9:30.84.

Preparation for the Gold Coast has seen Mitchell race locally at the Hunter Track Classic 3000m steeplechase (9:53.28, 2nd).

Setting the national record in 2016 at the Paris Diamond League, LaCaze’s 9:14.28 represents a world-class racing ability. A determined athlete, LaCaze is best known for a personal best spree between 2015-2017, with one outdoor season resulting in more than ten personal bests, including two Rio 2016 Olympic finals (5000m 12th, 3000m steeplechase 9th).

LaCaze has battled injury throughout the season, racing once in Brisbane (1500m, 4:17.23), and will be eager to improve on a 5th place 3000m steeplechase finish at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Kenya, Jamaica and Canada will feature prominently on the Gold Coast, with Kenya’s pairing of Celiphine Chespol and Purity Kirui more than competent.

Chespol, the current Under 20 World Champion, doubles as the Kenyan national record holder, following an 8:58.78 performance at the 2017 Prefontaine Classic.

Kirui won gold in 2014 and is a 9:17.74 athlete. Aisha Praught (Jamaica) ranks fourth in the Commonwealth currently and is the Jamaican record holder (9:19.29). Praught has seen substantial improvements since relocating to Boulder, Colorado to train with 2017 3000m steeplechase World Champion, Emma Coburn (United State of America).

A two-time Olympian, Genevieve Lalonde (Canada) arrives on the Gold Coast with a 9:29.99 personal best.

Women Marathon

Australia’s women’s marathon team pose a substantial competitive threat, as the experienced pairing of Jessica Trengove (SA) and Lisa Weightman (VIC) both enter with Commonwealth, Olympic and World Championships experience and are ranked sixth and third respectively on the Australia all-time marathon list.

Relative newcomer Virginia Moloney (VIC) has improved steadily during the last three seasons, finding herself on the Commonwealth Games team after a commanding performance on the Gold Coast in 2017 catapulted the school teacher to ninth on the Australia all-time list.

Jessica Trengove returns to the Commonwealth arena after a third-place finish in Glasgow in 2014 and ninth place at the 2017 London World Championships which doubled as a personal best of 2:27:01. Trengove will have medals on her mind, following recent personal bests over the half marathon (1:10:59 in Marugame) and 5000m (15:54.81) distances, showcasing commendable depth.

Australia’s World Marathon Majors veteran, Weightman, balances full-time work for IBM with world-class marathon racing.

Weightman’s 2017 featured a fifth-place finish at the prestigious London Marathon (2:25:15), followed by a sixth-place finish at the Chicago Marathon (2:28:45). Both races are a part of the Abbott’s World Marathon Majors, a series of six international marathons considered the most challenging on the world stage, where Weightman ranks 20th in the current 2017-18 championship series.

A chance meeting with her now coach Liam Delany, who was also supervising a local physical education class at the time, first inspired 27-year old Virginia Moloney.

Previously representing Australia at the 2017 World Cross Country Championships, finishing 79th, Moloney’s career highlights include a Melbourne Marathon win in 2016, and a fifth-place finish in the 2017 Gold Coast Marathon, running 2:29:14.

The 2016 Australian Cross Country Champion grew up in Garvoc, a small town home to 235 individuals, located two and a half hours south-west of Melbourne.

Expect strong competition from Namibia’s Helalia Johannes, returning after a fifth-place finish in Glasgow, a 2:26:09 performer, Johannes’ seasons best of 2:29:25 ranks her ninth. Shelia Jerotich (Kenya) set a course record in winning the Košice Marathon in Slovakia (2:27:34, October 2017). Alyson Dixon (England) is ranked sixth with a personal best of 2:29:06.

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