Fast five back to the track
Five of the 10 fastest Australian women in history over 5000m are bound for the Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne, as track specialists and versatile marathoners combine to chase an Australian victory over Ethiopian teenager and African Under 20 record holder
Five of the 10 fastest Australian women in history over 5000m are bound for the Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne, as track specialists and versatile marathoners combine to chase an Australian victory over Ethiopian teenager and African Under 20 record holder Aynadis Mebratu at Lakeside Stadium.
Racing their way to a historic day in Australian athletics at December’s Valencia Marathon, the Olympic trio of Genevieve Gregson (2:23:08), Isobel Batt-Doyle (2:23:27) and Eloise Wellings (2:25:47) all nailed the Paris 2024 qualifying standard – now dropping down in distance to contest a blockbuster 5000m battle at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting on February 15.
The trio don’t plan on merely filling the numbers, with Gregson and Wellings both Olympic finalists in the discipline at Rio 2016, and Batt-Doyle racing the event on Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 alongside Rose Davies – who looms as Australia’s top hope in Melbourne having qualified in the 5000m on four consecutive Australian teams.
With the Olympic standard set at 14:52.00 and only three Australian women in history having broken the 15-minute barrier, the numbers are not enough to deter Davies from a breakthrough performance on home soil.
“Last year was a big steppingstone for me. I was really happy with my race in Budapest, even though it was bittersweet missing out on the final by two spots. The 5000m is my pet event, I’m feeling confident coming into this year and I just want to race my best and to my full potential,” Davies said.
“The goal is to run as fast as we can and drag as many girls as we can across the line. Izzi and I obviously want the 5k time and it’s a good opportunity to run a quick race, so that’s definitely the goal in the back of my mind.”
19-year-old Ethiopian Aynadis Mebratu, a dual African medallist, will add flare to the field and brings swift credentials over 5000m, with the African Under 20 record holder over 3000m (8:30.99) showing no weakness when stepping up in distance – setting a personal best of 14:44.94 in Boston last week to open her season.
The determined Gregson has proven time and time again that she is never to be written off, finding an added incentive to produce her absolute best at the Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne after an altitude training block at Falls Creek alongside Davies, Batt-Doyle and Wellings.
“This meet is always going to be very special to me, Maurie Plant was always such a significant person in my career – he gave me so many opportunities. Not only that, he was such a big supporter of Ryan (Gregson) and I whether it was a good day or a bad day. Of course, I want to try to win it,” Gregson said.
“My heart is completely set on the marathon, but I genuinely believe I am in personal best shape for every distance. It would be really special to do that in the 5k after my personal best from 2016. It’s an opportunity to run fast and compete well, and I don’t feel that pressure on me.”
With the field set to feature the nation’s best middle-distance talent including 2022 Australian 10,000m champion Leanne Pompeani, World Championships representative Natalie Rule, and the duo of Maudie Skyring and Holly Campbell who both impressed at On Track Nights Zatopek:10 in December, Gregson is predicting a battle for the ages.
“I just think that this race has to be a good result, because when you have so many girls firing at once – you just feed off that. That’s what Valencia was and there is no reason this will be any different,” Gregson said.
Tickets to the Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne at Lakeside Stadium on February 15 can be purchased HERE.