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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Athletics team to be biggest since 2000 - To be announced soon....

Athletics team to be biggest since 2000 - To be announced soon....

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Athletics team to be biggest since 2000

By Michael Gleeson
brisbane Times
June 13, 2012

AUSTRALIA will send its second-biggest athletics team to an Olympics, with more than 50 athletes to be selected for London when the team is announced, as soon as today.

The Australian team will be bigger than Atlanta and the biggest since Sydney, and is boosted by the fact there will be three relay teams, a full complement of marathon runners and three discus throwers.

Emerging sprinters Steve Solomon and Melissa Breen will be named in the team, which was ratified by the Athletics Australia board yesterday and has been submitted to the Australian Olympic Committee for approval.

Breen will be in the relay but also the individual 100 metres, despite not having recorded an A-qualifying time. She was .002 of a second short of the mark.

The 21-year-old will be selected on the basis of consistently close performance, but also under the ''Rio clause'', where discretion is given to promising athletes who will be in contention for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It is uncertain if Solomon will also be selected in the individual 400 metres under the Rio clause.

Most positions on the team have already been announced, but it is understood Athletics Australia has chosen three relay teams - the women's 4 x 1 00 metres, and the men's 4 x 100 and 4 x 400.

The women's team will be named but there is a risk to their selection as only the top 16-ranked teams in the world are eligible, and Australia's team is currently ranked 16th, having slipped in the rankings after Poland overtook them.

The European championships are to be held on July 1-2, so there is a chance they could yet be dislodged from the top 16.

The men's 4 x 400 relay team is ranked 12th in the world and the 100 team 15th, so both also confront a similar scenario.

The men's teams have the potential to compete again to try to elevate their rankings should they be overtaken, with the 100 team potentially competing at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Cairns at the end of the month.

Long jumper Fabrice Lapierre, the 2010 world indoor champion, will not be named in the team when it is released by the AOC, as he is yet to jump an A-qualifying distance.

Lapierre's form has been good and improving of late. He finished second to compatriot Mitchell Watt in a Diamond League meet in New York at the weekend, and competed in a second, smaller meet the next day in a desperate bid to break the qualifying mark.

Were he to jump an A-qualifying distance in the next month, ahead of the IOC cut-off date, the AOC has the discretion to add him to the list at Athletics Australia's request.

Veteran runner Tamsyn Manou is understood not to be in the team, having not run an A-qualifying distance.

The biggest name on the team, hurdler Sally Pearson, reaffirmed in Oslo last week that she will be the athlete to beat in London.

The reigning world champion ran a world-leading time of 12.49 seconds - equalling her own best time of the year - and defeating in-form American Kristi Castlin and another of her key Olympic rivals, Briton Tiffany Porter.

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