29 May 2017
Different pathways to London selection for NSW trio
Three NSW athletes have followed very pathways to selection on the Australian World Championships team announced last week. Milly Clark, Jeff Hunt and Brad Milosevic will line up on August 6, to run the gruelling marathon, through the streets of London. Milosevic makes his Australian team debut, Rio Olympian Clark adds another national vest to her resume and London Olympian, Hunt returns to the green and gold.
Milly Clark (SYU) was the marathon revelation of 2016. From virtually nowhere, she snuck onto the Rio 2016 Olympic team, but after proudly donning the Olympic uniform, she ran her heart out, achieving the best finish of any of the six Australian marathoners in Rio. Her 18th place placed her the fourth best Australian women in Olympic history, nestled amongst some of the greats:
Silver Lisa Martin 1988
7th Lisa Martin 1984
11th Kerryn McCann 2000
17th Lisa Weightman 2012
18th Milly Clark 2016
21st Benita Willis 2008
Clark’s brief marathon career is remarkable:
26 July 2015 Blacktown 1st 2:46.49
18 Oct 2015 Amsterdam 3rd 2:29.07
14 Aug 2016 Rio 18th 2:30.53
London will be just her fourth career marathon.
“I feel extremely honoured and fortunate to be amongst the three women going this year as I know it was tough competition and a lot of girls had run the qualifying standard,” said Clark from her training base in America.
“I remember watching London 2012 and seeing how many spectators lined the course...I cannot wait to get amongst that atmosphere and take in the sights of London. It’s a super cool city and I think we all have a chance to do well on race day!”
Jeff Hunt (RBH), is one of the finest marathoners in Australian history. His personal best of 2:11.00, places him 11th on the Australian all-time list, recorded in 2010. It was also the fastest ever time on debut by an Australia. Hunt remains the fastest Aussie over the last decade, since Lee Troop ran 2:10.31 in 2007. He narrowly missed selection for the Rio Olympics, but returns to the street of London, which he ran at the 2012 Olympics.
The third NSW athlete, Brad Milosevic (GIR), was also on the cusp of Rio Olympic selection, but gets his chance here to run at the IAAF world championships.
We caught up with Milosevic, who reflected on his elevation to national team status.
What was his reaction to his selection?
”I’m over the moon, a proud moment. I missed the phone call from Athletics Australia originally and had a voice mail message waiting,” he recalled.
Milosevic has 10 weeks until he lines up for the 26 mile world title.
“The course is four laps around the Thames. I imagine it will be pretty flat and hope for favourable conditions that can lead to a PB or close to it. Being a World Championship and of cause covering 42km there is some unpredictability about it, as long as I can run my best on the day I’ll be stoked.”
Milsosevic was selected on the strength of his 2:16.24 in the Hamburg on April 23. How will he now prepare?
“Get back training. It’s a quicker turn around than I’ve ever done so I need to make the most of the next eight weeks before race day. I’m aiming for NSW XC relays (last weekend) and Nowra (State cross country) before a road race or two. The Aussie team gets to London late July for a holding camp.”
This breakthrough for Milosevic, who turned 28 last week, has taken a while to evolve. He was no star in his teens.
“I did tiny tots way back when, but never hung on, soccer and cricket were the go to sports through the school years. It wasn’t until year 7 (2001) my old primary school teacher and then Girraween club President got me into the winter XC season and haven’t missed one since.
“I was always mid-pack and never made state xc until year 9. My school running career highlight started and ended the same day coming second at the All schools XC in 17 years.”
But he remained a regular in the NSW distance running scene, picking up the odd state medal. But then the marathon emerged as a possibility and with coach Ken Green, they set about a pathway.
“In early 2013 the planning towards the marathon started. I debuted with 2:32, which wasn’t ideal, but I learnt that a lot of hard work was needed. It was a much needed wake up call. I love road and XC and prefer it over the track events, so after a slow and steady progression it was a good fit. I’m not great on the track so if you can’t run fast - run longer.”
The hard work started to pay off in the second half of 2015.
“At the Gold Coast Half in 2015, I came second and then I ran a huge marathon PB in November winning Melbourne. That was the moment I turned “the corner” I think and really got some confidence.”
As marathoners need to set longer goals, he is also looking past London.
“After Worlds there is a massive opportunity for a home Commonwealth Games but one marathon at a time. I’d love to get to the world marathon majors like New York, Berlin and finish in a top 10. But to do that I’ll need a quicker PB. The quicker I run the more possibilities and Tokyo will come around very quickly.”
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Brad Milosevic (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)