Sophie Barker selected for Australian Team

World Cross Country Championships

734957_10151346137848618_504372047_nMelbourne University Athletics Club member Sophie Barker has secured a position in the Australian Team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in March.  The selection marks Barker’s debut in the Australian team after some very impressive seasons on the domestic athletics scene.

In the selection race over 8km, held at Stromolo Forest (ACT) on Sunday 21st January, a lead pack of more than ten athletes sat together for the first three kilometres, with Celia Sullohern (NSW) narrowly the first past the post in a time of 11:26.

McMahon, Barker and Palm then broke away in the next 2.5 kilometre lap, with Sullohern and the rest of the now chasing pack sitting 20 metres of the pace as the women’s event entered its final lap.

McMahon established a lead of 20 metres in the dying stages to win the event in 27:28, with Barker second in 27:37, Palm third in 27:48 and Sullohern (28:00) andAustralian marathon champion Lauren Shelley (WA, 28:08) rounding out the top five in 4th and 5th respectively.

By placing first and second, McMahon and Barker have confirmed their debut selection to the Australian team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, while Palm will don the Australian uniform at the event for the first time since 2009.

In the men’s race Australian Flame Collis Birmingham (Vic) has confirmed his automatic selection to the green and gold contingent winning the men’s 12km Selection Trial from his training partner Brett Robinson (ACT) and City2Surf winner Liam Adams (Vic)

Birmingham, Robinson and Adams sat at the front of the open men’s contingent from the outset, coming through the first two-kilometre loop in 5:51 with a share of the lead.

Sitting on each other’s shoulders through 4.5 kilometres (13:03), the two-time Olympian Birmingham made his move to lead by just shy of 100 metres as he headed into the fourth of five laps in 20:03.

Extending his lead to 150 metres at the bell, Birmingham looked strong as he crossed in a winning time of 34:21. The battle for second and third came down to a sprint finish, with Robinson only just edging out Adams for the silver medal. Both clocked 34:48.

Steve Kelly (Vic, 4th, 35:27) and Ben Moreau (NSW, 5th, 35:51) rounded out the top five.

Birmingham said: “It was a bit quicker than I thought it would be, but I’ve come away with the win and that’s what the aim for today was. The Selection Policy let athletes pick themselves on the team and that’s what I wanted to do.”

“It’s always important to perform well in the Trial, and to do that today you needed to run pretty well. I’m not as ready for the World Cross Country Championships as I want to be as it is better to be ready later rather than now, but to do so well this morning is a big step in the right direction.