The Courier-Mail

World re­sults have Aussies ripe for Rio

- SCOTT GULLAN Sports · Athletics · Rio 2016 · Beijing · Australia · Jared Tallent · Australian Sports Commission · Brandon Starc · David Greene · Athletics Australia

A POS­I­TIVE world cham­pi­onships ex­pe­ri­ence has Aus­tralian head coach Craig Hil­liard bullish about the track and field team’s prospects at next year’s Rio Olympics.

In the lead-up Hil­liard had feared no medals but he will leave Bei­jing with two sil­vers – long-jumper Fabrice Lapierre and walker Jared Tal­lent – and a bunch of promis­ing young­sters.

He will have at least six ex­pe­ri­enced per­form­ers, in­clud­ing team cap­tain Sally Pear­son, back for Rio de Jan- eiro so the out­look is brighter than ex­pected.

“Over­all I am happy with our younger brigade, I think the younger ath­letes re­ally stood up out there, Hil­liard said.

The of­fi­cial tar­get for ath­let­ics set by the Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion for Rio is be­tween one to three medals with no guar­an­tee of gold.

“We are (in the ball­park),” Hil­liard said.

‘‘We sit some­where be­tween two and four. We want to do bet­ter than that.’’

Lead­ing the youth charge in Bei­jing was high-jumper Eleanor Pat­ter­son (pic­tured) who fin­ished eighth in her first ma­jor cham­pi­onships while Bran­don Starc made the men’s high-jump fi­nal af­ter a per­sonal best in qual­i­fy­ing.

Walker Dane Bird-Smith fin­ished top eight in the 20km event, 400m run­ner An­neliese Ru­bie was im­pres­sive while hur­dler Michelle Jen­neke and long-jumper Brooke Strat­ton showed prom­ise.

“It was a mas­sive step for her (Pat­ter­son) in terms of her ath­letic jour­ney,” Hil­liard said.

Hil­liard said he would con­tinue to speak with the teenager and her long-time coach David Green about be­com­ing part of the Ath­let­ics Aus­tralia net­work and ac­cept­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

“I have had some dis­cus­sions with David al­ready and I want to fol­low up that di­a­logue with him post-here when we do the full de­brief with Eleanor and him,” he said.

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