Australia’s men’s team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships should not be ignored according to Australian national 10,000m title holder Patrick Tiernan (Qld), as he gets set to line up at the first major international event of the year in Kampala (UGA) on Sunday 26 March.
"I'd like to think if we all have good days we could potentially be a top-five finish,” Tiernan said.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for us this year. I believe we've managed to get the six strongest possible runners to this Championships."
The Australian men's team includes Rio Olympic marathoner Liam Adams (Vic), Olympic 5000m finalist Brett Robinson (Vic) alongside Sam McEntee (WA), Stewart McSweyn (Tas) and Jack Rayner (Vic).
But Tiernan is confident in his own form, and the calibre of his teammates against the sixty competing nations over 12-kilometres.
“I don’t have a particular goal here, I just want to finish as close to the winners as possible. I’ll be putting in my best effort out there to assist the boys to a great overall finish.”
A debutant in the men’s 5000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last year, Tiernan went on to win the Australian 10,000 Championships at the Zatopek:10 in December. His victory in Melbourne followed previous success at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, also winning that event ahead of pre-race favourite Edward Cheserek.
“The biggest learning curve for me in Rio was realising that I’m a very small fish in a big pond. It gave me a reality check. Then I had the NCAA, which was a fantastic experience for me and I took a lot away from it,” Tiernan said.
“This year I’ll be going into races with the mentality that it is going to be tough, and that I’m going to have to earn every result I get. This race in Kampala will be very different to the cross country events I have done before. I’m expecting it to hurt, it will be one of the toughest race I’ve ever run.”
Tiernan has the London 2017 IAAF World Championships on his radar for later this year, with the men’s 5000m and 10,000m qualifiers his target as the outdoor season continues in the northern hemisphere.
“I want the 5k and 10k qualifier this season, with selection in both. The 10,000m is first on the program there, so I can give that a red hot crack and then see how we go after that,” Tiernan added.
The green and gold contingent in Kampala (UGA) is 24-strong, with Tiernan and his men joined by Australian teams in each of the open women’s, junior boy’s and girl’s races.
The women’s team features Anna Kelly (Vic), Emily Ryan (Vic) and Gemma Maini (Vic), the top-three placegetters at the Selection Trial in Canberra (ACT) in January. They will be joined by national 10,000m champion Bridey Delaney (NSW), as well as Lexy Gilmour (NSW) andVirginia Moloney (Vic).
Hosted biennially, Australia has competed at every instalment of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, with Benita Willis (Qld) winning individual gold at the event.
At the Guiyang 2015 instalment of the event, Robinson delivered the best Australian performance, crossing 28th in the men’s 12-kilometre event.
For more information on the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, please click here.
2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships
26 March 2017
Brett Robinson (Vic), Stewart McSweyn (Tas), Jack Rayner (Vic), Sam McEntee (WA), Liam Adams (Vic), Patrick Tiernan (Qld)
Anna Kelly (Vic), Emily Ryan (ACT), Gemma Maini (Vic), Bridey Delaney (NSW), Lexy Gilmour (NSW), Virginia Moloney (Vic)
Callum McClusky (ACT), Josh Phillips (NSW), David Lean (Qld), Kieran Tall (NSW), Edward Trippas (NSW), Zachary Facioini (NSW)
Lauren Ryan (Vic) Courtney Hopkins (ACT), Georgia Evans (NSW), Emily Hopper (NSW), Amelia Mazza-Downie (NSW), Clio Ozanne-Jacques (Qld)