Citius, Fortius, Altius...Some Aussie Flames to watch in London.

Hello!

I hope everyone is getting Olympic fever as the count down is in it's final stages. 4 days to go until the Opening Ceremony! Although I am not competing in these Olympics unfortunately, I thought I might give you a heads up on 6 Aussie athletes to watch, some who are tipped to bring home a medal, and some who are in their first Olympics.

So have your note pad and pens at the ready so you can remember who to watch and when.

Australia has lots of class Track & Field athletes, all of whom have been working incredibly hard the last few months to prepare for what might be the biggest moment of their lives. There is too many stories of success and hardship to detail every athlete but I will try to give you a small insight into a couple.

1. Steve Solomon - Men's 400m & 4x400m Relay (4th, 5th, 6th August & 9th,10th August
Personal Best: 45.52 secondsImage

Steve is a good friend of mine who was a fellow team mate at the 2010 World Junior Championships and 2011 World Championships. One of the youngest on the Aussie team, at only 18, and he has been selected to compete at his first Olympics. The one lap race has been described as the most difficult track event due to its high speed, intensity and lactic acid build-up; but this does not deter Steve..At the rate he has been improving, he could make a big impact on the senior world stage in a few weeks. You may have heard of him in the media of late as he was selected in the individual 400m for London instead of John Steffenson (Olympic Trials winner & previous Commonwealth Games gold medallist). I admire the maturity and composure that he has held throughout the whole selection ordeal. Interestingly enough, Steve only begun training and competing seriously for Athletics in 2009 - just 3 years ago! He just finished competing at the World Junior Championships where he won the 400m bronze medal. Definitely one to look out for now and in the future!
(Other Aus 4x400m men: Ben Offereins, John Steffensen, Joel Milburn, Brendan Cole & Tristan Thomas)

2. Lauren Boden - Women's 400m hurdles (5th, 6th & 8th August)
Personal Best: 55.25 secondsImage

Lauren or 'Loz' is also making her Olympic Debut after she courageously chased the Olympic 'A' standard all domestic competition season. She is only 23 years old and is the third fastest 400m hurdler Australia has ever had. She is an Australian Institute of Sport athlete and recently ran a personal best over the flat 400 metres which means she is in great shape coming into her first Olympics. We were 4x400m team mates at the World Championships last year, and I was inspired by how down to earth she is! I said before that the 400m is considered the hardest track event - now add 10 hurdles in front of you too! It is quite a technical event where every stride in between each of the 10 hurdles is measured and counted down to the millimeter, so watch how focussed Lauren gets before every race! 
(Lauren's training partners also in the Aus Olympic Team: Melissa Breen 100m & Brendan Cole 400m hurdles.)

3. Mitchell Watt - Men's Long Jump (3rd & 4th August)
Personal Best: 8.54m (Australian Record)Image

Now if you're sitting at home, take a look at the length of your living room or backyard, even pace it out and see how long it is. Mitch 'The Mega Watt' Watt can probably jump the length of that whole room, leaping off one leg and soaring up to 8 and a half metres! You won't believe it until you see him do it. This is also Mitch's first Olympics, however the 24 year old has numerous international medals to bring along with him - including a silver medal from last years World Championships. He is ranked number 1 in the world at the moment so I will definitely be tuning in to watch him jump. 
(Other Aussie Long Jumper at the Games: Henry Frayne)

4. Alana Boyd - Women's Pole Vault (4th & 6th August)
Personal Best: 4.76m (Australian Record)Image

You may not have heard much of the 28 year old, Alana in the build up to London due to her training partner - Steve Hooker - being Australia's reigning Olympic Champion, however she has had a spectacular last couple of years. She is the 2010 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist and this year broke the Australian Record to leap almost 5 meters up into the sky. Pole Vault is extremely technical and the most dangerous event in Track & Field, it involves great upper body strength, speed and enormous amounts of focus. An interesting fact about Alana is that both her parents, Denise and Ray Boyd, are former Commonwealth Games Champions in the 200m and Pole Vault respectively. A very talented family, and fingers crossed that Alana can improve on her 16th place at the Beijing Olympics and make it into the top 8 in London. 
(Other Pole Vaulters in the Australian Team: Steve Hooker, Liz Parnov)

5. Ben St Lawrence - Men's 10,000m (4th August).
Personal Best: 27:24.95 (Australian Record)Image

For those of you who don't know, a 10,000m race on the track comprises of 25 grueling laps. It takes huge amounts of endurance training and mental strength to compete for this event. Ben actually fell away from Athletics for a few years, and became a self confessed party animal. He didn't make his come back until 2006 - since then he has represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, World Championships in 2011 and fulfilled his childhood dream of winning the City 2 Surf. Last year he broke the Australian Record for the 10km race just 5 years after making his come back which is truly inspirational. This will be the 30 year olds first Olympics, and although the African countries are dominating long distance running at the moment, the 10km is a very tactical race. The constant changing in pace and jostling amongst the runners means it really can be anyones race. So boil a cup of tea and settle in for half an hour of intense racing with Ben.
(Other 10,000m runners in Aussie team: Eloise Wellings)

6. Dani Samuels - Women's Discus (3rd & 4th August).
Personal Best: 65.8mImage

Dani threw herself onto the world stage at the age of 21 when she won the World Championships in 2009 - which made her the youngest World Champion discus thrower ever. The discus event is also a very powerful and technical event where the athletes have been likened to ballet dancers the way they spin gracefully around the throwing circle. The hardest thing for throwers appears to be how they exert their maximum force perfectly in balance out towards the field; but then they have to stop themselves from moving out of the barriers so as not to be disqualified. She is extremely talented, mature and a very eloquent speaker - a great role model for young females. An interesting fact about Dani is that she started with her coach when she was 10 years old and has remained with him to this day! This is her second Olympics and she will be looking to improve on her 8th place from Beijing. Go Dani!
(Other Discus throwers in the Aussie team: Benn Harradine, Scott Martin, Julian Wruck)

 

So there you go - a few of Australia's Track & Field athletes that will be representing YOU and the rest of our country.
All of the athletes have worked so hard for so long for this moment so get behind them and show your support & appreciation! 

To see the rest of the Australian Team please visit:
http://london2012.olympics.com.au/sports/athletics/athlete

And Follow The Flame Athletes on Twitter: @AthsAust , or Facebook: www.facebook.com/australianflame

Hope you all enjoyed and are now even more excited to watch The Games!
A. xx