Middle-distance stars Jessica Hull and Stewart McSweyn have guaranteed their spots on the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympics

Middle-distance star Jessica Hull has guaranteed herself a spot on the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympics with a commanding victory in the women’s 5000 meters at the Melbourne Track Classic.

Hull, 23, surged to the front with 600 meters to go and powered away from Japan’s Hitomi Niiya to win in 15 minutes 06.12 seconds and claim her first national title.

As Hull had previously bettered the automatic qualifying mark, Thursday night’s victory saw her cement a spot in the Olympic squad.

“It is pretty surreal,” said Hull, who graduated last year from the University of Oregon and is now based in Phoenix.

“It’s been a long time, it’s been a dream and when you are a kid you think it is going to happen sooner.

“So in 2016 I was like ‘yeah, I’m going to Rio’ but obviously I was still young.

“But now in 2020 it is a reality and it is so exciting.”

Equally commanding was Stewart McSweyn, who became the first man in five years to complete the Australian 5000m/10,000m double.

Racing in a black armband in honor of his mentor and world athletics identity Maurie Plant, who died last month, McSweyn overcame some nervous moments before stamping his authority on Thursday night’s race.

He broke clear with five laps to go and powered away to win in 13 minutes 38.77 seconds.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I had to bring the A-game,” said the Tasmanian, who smashed the 10,000m record late last year at the Zatopek meet.

posted Thursday February 6th
by John Salvado