5 February 2019
Seven NSW athletes destined for Denmark World Cross Country
NSW have supplied a strong representative of seven athletes for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships to be held in Aarhus Denmark on March 30. The athletes earned selection with solid performances at the cross country trails at Mt Stromlo in late January.
Paige Campbell (Sydney Uni) and Marnie Ponton (Bankstown) claimed selection in the senior women’s team placing third (Campbell) and fifth (Ponton) in the trial.
NSW were very strong in the under-20 events, with Jackson Sharp (Run Crew) winning, Oli Raimond (Sutherland) in fourth and Liam Gorman (UTN) in fifth. The surprise was 15-year-old Sarah Schiffmann (Macquarie Hunter) winning the women’s under-20 race. Her selection makes her the second youngest athlete ever selected for the world cross country team behind Sharon Dalton in 1983. She is joined in the women’s under-20 team by fifth placegetter Lauren Carey (SDG)
She was lost for words when she was told about her selection in a phone call from Athletics Australia.
“I was at home and I didn’t know what to say.”
She recalled her terrific race at the trial.
“I got a good start and then keep going. On the first hill I went a little faster and a few dropped off, then on the next hill Ruby caught up. I then broke away on a downhill.”
Her family have been very supportive and regularly make the three hour travel by car to Sydney from their home in Carroll, a small village 20km east of Gunnedah.
Jackson Sharp was a comfortable winner in the under-20 8km cross Country race, taking the victory by 12 seconds.
“About 4k in I dropped off the pack and was a bit spent,” Sharp said. “I got back onto the pack with about 2km to go on a downhill section.”
Although he did compete for Australia at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, he had missed selection for the significant 2018 World U20 Championships team.
After an impressive year running good times over 1500m and 3000m, Oli Raimond was rewarded with selection in the under-20 team following his fourth place in the trial.
In the open women’s Paige Campbell ran a great race to place third Australian over the line. The steeplechase specialist, who has won a NSW cross country title still regards herself has inexperienced.
“I’m definitely a cross country novice,” she remarked. “I felt pretty good for first 5k then through 7k I struggled a bit and then I got a second wind and didn’t lose any distance at the end.”
On the verge of qualification for the world championships in the steeplechase, Campbell still aims to compete over the barriers at the Australian Championships which are the week after the World Cross Country trial.
“The steeple is on the last day so I’ll be able to get back.”
Blue Mountains based Marnie Ponton placed fifth Aussie in the trial, securing her selection. It capped a tremendous sixth months for Ponton who was second in the national half marathon championships before placing an outstanding sixth at the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff.
NSW Representatives are:
Paige Campbell (SYU) [coach Philo Saunders)
Marnie Ponton (BAN) [Dick Telford]
Sarah Schiffmann (MQH) [Guy Creber]
Lauren Carey (SDG) [Gary Howard]
Jackson Sharp (RUN CREW) [Gary Howard]
Oli Raimond (SUT) [Paul Laurendet]
Liam Gorman (UTN) [Nic Bromley]
David Tarbotton for Athletics NSW
Image: Sarah Schiffmann (courtesy of David Tarbotton)