It was at the London leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last month that Kelsey-Lee Roberts (ACT) threw a mark of 64.38m in the women’s javelin to improve her personal best for a second time this year.
It’s in the same stadium next week that she believes she can step up on the global stage having won bronze as an Australian debutant at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow 2014.
“I think the European season has positioned me well for a big performance. I was almost waiting for it happen during the domestic season, but I’ve been able to put together some consistent competition since coming over here and I feel great going in to the world championships,” Roberts said.
“I got a great level of base level strength sorted this season and we have translated that to some awesome power. I’ve just built my technique to a point where it is reliable and the coming together of all of that has meant that I’m on form at the top of the runway.
“I believe I am someone that can contend here. That’s part of being confident and this year the aim was always to PB at world championships. If I do that in the final I absolutely put myself among the medal winners. Anything can happen and I’ll be making sure my anything is as strong as possible.”
A latecomer to the sport of athletics, Roberts only began throwing the javelin as a 17-year-old, rapidly rising through the ranks to achieve a new personal best of 63.92m in her home town of Canberra (ACT) earlier this year.
She was a netballer, tennis player and swimmer as a teenager, but quickly discovered she had a knack for spear-throwing despite it being what she describes as an ‘unnatural action’.
Looking ahead, she will continue her season beyond the IAAF World Championships with a maiden start at the IAAF Diamond League Final in Zurich (SUI), before preparation to compete at the Commonwealth Games on home soil in 2018.
“This is the first year that I am going to stay on in Europe. I am confirmed for the Diamond League final and I’m looking forward to that. I’ll throw at Zurich and we’ll see where the season goes from there,” Roberts added.
“The Commonwealth Games are going to be great. I’ve found myself in good form this year and I want to carry that over to 2018 with a big event at home on the Gold Coast. It will just be so much fun for Australia’s athletes.”
Roberts is joined in the women’s javelin by Kathryn Mitchell (Vic), a 66.12m thrower who placed fourth in the event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last year, while Hamish Peacock (Tas) starts in the men’s event having thrown a personal best of 84.39m in Hobart (Tas) in May.
Mitchell was fourth placed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, while Peacock, like Roberts, is a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist from Glasgow 2014.
The green and gold throwing contingent also includes Dani Stevens (NSW) and Taryn Gollshewsky (Qld) in the women’s discus, Benn Harradine (Qld) and Mitchell Cooper (Qld), competing in the men’s discus and men’s shot putter Damien Birkinhead (Vic).
Stevens this year made the decision to prepare for London 2017 in Australia, a shift she believes has allowed her to train and recover in better surroundings as she makes every effort to return to the world championship podium for the first time since 2009.
“After moving back to Sydney from the Gold Coast in February, I wanted to make sure that I had day-to-day contact with my coach (Denis Knowles). I’m in a technical event and that’s very important. Plus, the Diamond League schedule didn’t allow for it, going to and from Europe wasn’t conducive to performance here, so we made the call to stay at home,” Stevens said.
“Having lived on the Gold Coast for two years, I had a great base setup there so we trained up there for part of the winter and had a number of competition opportunities available to us, as well. It was great warm weather training and it’s been a great preparation.
“I’m in a position that I’ve always wanted to be. I’m throwing further more often and that consistency wins medals. My coach has always said that. He’s coming over, in fact he’s already here. He was pumped after what he saw from me in Rio and now we’re excited to see what will happen at these championships”
Harradine will start at a fifth IAAF World Championships after being extended an invitation to compete via the IAAF Roll-Down Process, while Cooper will make his Australian debut after recently completing his college athletics career at the University of Kansas.
Birkinhead is a five-time Australian champion in the men’s shot put and boasts a season best of 20.54m from the Track Challenge in Auckland (NZL) earlier this year. He is coached by national record holder, Scott Martin.
Team Australia will arrive in the host city of London (GBR) today, before competition commences on Friday 4 August.