Australians are set to feature heavily in the marathons on Sunday morning as the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast come to a close.
Action commences from 6:10am when Team Co-captain Kurt Fearnley headlines a contingent of nine Australians who will tackle the gruelling 42.195km event.
The marathon starts and finishes in the Southport Broadwater Parklands and stretches the length of the Gold Coast from Runaway Bay in the north, to Burleigh Heads in the south.
The flat and fast course along the picturesque coastal route will be a great visual treat for the fans.
The T54 men’s and T54 women's marathon will kick off proceedings before the women and then the men hit the streets at 7:20am and 8:15am respectively.
It will be the first wheelchair marathon race in Commonwealth Games history, although Australian Paul Wiggins won an exhibition race at the Victoria Games in 1994. Here, it is a full medal event, demonstrating another reason why this is the most inclusive Games ever.
It’s set to be a moment to remember, so set your alarms early to watch Fearnley go for gold in his farewell race on Australian soil. Join in the fun and let us know where you are watching from with the hashtag #farewellfearnley
Fearnley’s Farewell at Home
Fearnley had the Carrara crowd in a frenzy on Tuesday when he won silver in the men’s T54 1500m as the five-time Paralympian tried everything to reign in Canadian Alexandre DuPont.
Silver was still a sweet way to finish a stellar track career but it’s the marathon, where he is a two-time Paralympic champion, that best defines the 37-year-old’s athletic prowess.
“I live and breathe that marathon. I have dreamt about it (Sunday’s race) since the moment they put it in the program.”
“I have loved every minute of racing marathons since the first one I got into when I was 18”
“20 years later, I am going to give it all I’ve got.”
Sunday’s race will be Fearnley’s final marathon on home soil and in the green and gold after an outstanding career where he has had 43 victories in 75 marathons.
Teammate Jake Lappin makes his major championship marathon debut as he looks to build on the success of a bronze in the 1500m behind his bemedalled compatriot earlier in the week.
International competition is set to be provided by Dupont (Canada) who is ranked fifth in the Commonwealth as a 1:31:27 marathoner. Simon Lawson (England) enters the race with two top fifteen finishes at the 2016 Paralympic Games (14th) and the 2015 Para World Championships (10th).
De Rozario Endeavours to do the Double
Fresh of a memorable victory in the women’s T54 1500m on Tuesday, three-time Paralympian Madison De Rozario (WA) comes into the marathon ranked number one with a personal best of 1:39:22 and would dearly love a second Commonwealth Games gold.
Eliza Ault-Connell (NSW) was fifth behind her compatriot in the 1500m as she makes her major championship marathon debut on the Gold Coast.
De Rozario will start as race favourite ahead of Canadian Diane Roy (marathon best of 1:40:37), England’s Jade Jones (1:41:44), whilst Samantha Kinghorn (Scotland) is ranked 4th (1:43:52).
Shelley’s attempts historic double
Michael Shelley (QLD) will look for a home-course advantage to assist him, as the 34-year old attempts a title defence, not completed by an Australian man since former AIS Director Rob de Castella won gold in 1982 & 1986.
Historically, Shelley has found success in championship marathons, with tactically astute podium finishes in both Delhi (Silver) and Glasgow (Gold).
Standing in the way of Shelley will be a 44-year old barber, a Scottish major championship specialist and Uganda’s “Mr. Consistent”.
Kenneth Mungara (KEN), the 2015 Gold Coast Marathon winner found running in his early thirties, regularly cutting the hair of some of Kenya’s most talented athletes, Mungara figured he needed to get involved, now an owner of a 2:07:36 personal best.
Scotland’s marathoning pride and joy, Callum Hawkins’(SCO) 2:10:17 personal best was set finishing fourth at the 2017 World Championships, coupled with a ninth-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games, Hawkins has a knack for outlasting and outthinking marathoners of far faster personal bests. A 1:00:00 personal best for the half-marathon, Hawkins recently placed third behind Mo Farah in the Vitality Big Half, a time of 1:01:45 suggesting the young Scot is in competitive shape.
Rounding out the list of challengers, Solomon Mutai (UGA) is a 2:09:59 athlete with three top-eight finishes at the Olympic Games (2016), World Championships (2015), and Commonwealth Games (2014) to his name. A 1:04:01 half-marathon in February doesn’t suggest dominant current form, however, the Ugandan will be one to watch.
Weightman and Trengove: A podium pairing
Jess Trengove (SA) and Lisa Weightman (VIC) will attempt to improve on their respective bronze medals this weekend. With both women having raced onto the podium in 2014 and 2010 respectively.
Ranked sixth and third on the Australian all-time list, Trengove and Weightman will draw on Commonwealth, Olympic and World Championship experience to take it to Namibia’s Helalia Johannes, a fifth-place finisher in Glasgow with a 2:26:09 personal best.
Relative newcomer Virginia Moloney (VIC) has improved steadily during the last three seasons, finding herself on the Commonwealth Games team after a commanding performance on the Gold Coast in 2017 catapulted the school teacher to ninth on the Australia all-time list.
A Kenyan team with limited international experience is led by Sheila Jerotich, a 2:27:34 performer likely to carry the hopes of the team. A recent winner of the Košice Marathon (Slovakia), Jerotich has demonstrated an ability to win at a professional level and is likely to push both Trengove and Weightman throughout the 42-kilometre journey.
Pat Birgan and Sean Whipp for Athletics Austalia
Statistics and superlatives courtesy of David Tarbotton
Aussies in Action - Next Up
|Sunday 15 April Morning Session
|T54 Marathon Final
||Kurt Fearnley (NSW), Jake Lappin (VIC)
|T54 Marathon Final
||Madison de Rozario (WA), Eliza Ault-Connell (VIC)
||Jess Trengove (SA), Lisa Weightman (VIC), Virginia Moloney (VIC)
||Liam Adams (VIC), Michael Shelley (QLD)
Follow all the action of the XXI Commonwealth Games
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, from Wednesday 4 April to Sunday 15 April 2018.
Athletics action kicks off on Sunday 8 April and continues until Sunday 15 April.
You can still buy athletics tickets for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games including for finals sessions;
Don’t miss your chance to witness world-class competition live and cheer on the Aussie team.
TV and Digital
The Seven Network will broadcast content on all three of their TV channels - 7, 7TWO and 7Mate.
You can download the 7CommGames app from both the Google Play and Apple store or watch via the website version.
The app and website will have all events on TV and every medal event live, in full and available for free.
Athletics will be hosted by a huge team of athletics specialist led by Bruce McAvaney and include Lord Sebastian Coe, Dave Culbert, Steve Hooker, Tamsyn Lewis.
With Pat Welsh trackside and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Jane Flemming providing additional commentary.
How to listen on radio
ABC Local and Regional Stations – Updates throughout the day with live continuous
coverage from 7.00 pm
The ABC Listen App – on Google Play and Apple store featuring a dedicated Commonwealth Games channel
Grandstand Digital DAB+ – broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
ABC Online – ABC Grandstand will stream its Games coverage
Karen Tighe will host the broadcast with Quentin Hill covering Athletics along with Australia’s fastest man, Patrick Johnson providing expert commentary.