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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Whaler to use Hunter Track Classic for tilt at Olympic 200m

Whaler to use Hunter Track Classic for tilt at Olympic 200m

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Classic status elevated as Olympic hopefuls converge

Maitland Mercury
14 Dec, 2011

With the London Olympics less than a year away the Hunter Track Classic has been elevated to the Australian Athletics Tour for 2012.

The Hunter Track Classic will be held at Glendale on January 21, less than two months away from Olympic selection trials and six months out from the 2012 Games.

The move ensured the event holds national significance with Olympic qualification on the line and it has already attracted the likes of world champion Dani Samuels, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Benn Harradine and Australian representatives Pirrenee Steinert, Laura Whaler, Liam Gander and Kevin Moore.

It was an announcement long hoped for by Hunter Track Classic organisers and Athletics NSW chief executive officer Greg Meagher made it official at yesterday’s launch while hinting at things to come for the sport in the region.

“Three years ago the Hunter Track Classic was just a thought,” Meagher said.

“But it has quickly developed into arguably one of the best meets in the country.

“There is a rich amount of athletics talent to come out of the Hunter and athletes have voted with their feet.

“It is testament then that the Hunter Track Classic has been made part of the Australian Athletics series this year.

“There are big plans for the Hunter going forward and we hope to go from strength to strength.

“It [the Hunter Track Classic] might even become part of the Grand Prix series one day.

Adelaide (January 28), Perth (February 11) and Sydney (February 18) track classics will follow before the IAAF sanctioned Melbourne Track Classic on March 2-3, which doubles as the Olympic selection trials.

East Maitland sprinter Whaler has her eye on making an Olympic debut next year and said the Hunter Track Classic would be a highlight of the build-up.

“I think it is one of the best meets we have in Australia,” she said.

“There is a good crowd and it is well supported plus I get the chance to run on my home track in front of family and friends which doesn’t happen all that often.”

Whaler has changed tact slightly and will focus on the women’s 200 metres ahead of the London Olympics.

“I will still run the 100 metres as well but the 200 will definitely be my priority,” she said.

“If I’m running a strong 200 then I will be running a strong 100 as well.”

Whaler said the “A” qualifying time of 11.29 seconds for the 200m was realistically within her sights. Her personal best time is 11.46s.

Whaler’s training partner Steinert missed out on the women’s 400m “A” qualifier of 51.50s on Saturday but the 2010 Maitland Sportsperson of the Year was pleased with stopping the clock at 52.98s.

Steinert and Whaler will head to the Bay Sheffield Gift in South Australia before returning for the Hunter Track Classic and the remainder of the Australian Athletics Tour.

Yesterday’s Hunter Track Classic launch at Glendale had a rock concert feel to it with red carpet, pop songs and glamorous outfits all part of the proceedings.

The 2012 Hunter Track Classic will once again include commentary, post race interviews, music, live results and spectators close to the action.

New additions include a DJ on ground, a men’s high jump shootout, precision javelin, a discus showdown between Harradine and Samuels as well as a 1500m finale incorporating the crowd.

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