Montag returns to Birmingham to defend gold

Seven Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holders have been announced in the initial 32-stong athletics squad for Birmingham.

The first 32 members of the Australian Athletics Team for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have been revealed, with a mix of youth and experience set to light up the track, field and roads in Birmingham this August.

Headlining the team will be defending champion Jemima Montag (walk). 

World ranked number one Jemima Montag will be looking to repeat her breakthrough performance from the Gold Coast 2018 Games when she takes on the Commonwealth’s best in the 10,000m race walk.

Montag, who finished sixth at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the 20km road version of the event is primed and ready to claim the top spot on the podium, after breaking an 18-year-old Australian race walking record earlier this year.

“My gold medal in front of a home crowd was a fork in the road moment. After having struggled with confidence and wondering whether I had what it takes, I hit that tape and knew I belonged amongst the best in the world,” Montag said.

“My mindset is totally different heading into Birmingham. I remember just feeling lucky to be on the team in 2018, and hoping to smile for the cameras during the race.

“This time around I know I can win and I’m ready to put on a classy performance.”

Also featuring in the team will be Sinead Diver as Australia’s most successful marathoner since Commonwealth Games legend Steve Moneghetti AM retired.

Hailing from Ireland, Diver, who now calls Albert Park home, will be looking to clinch her first medal for her adopted country after a triumphant top-10 finish at the Tokyo Olympics.

“This will be my first time at the Commonwealth Games. I was disappointed to miss out in 2018 but absolutely loved watching all of my Aussie teammates competing,” Diver said.

“It was such an amazing Games and I’m so excited to be part of the action this time.

“I would like to think I’ll be more competitive at the Commonwealth Games than in Tokyo. In Tokyo I wasn’t ever in medal contention, whereas in Birmingham I will be aiming for this.”

With the World Athletics Championships on in Oregon, USA, just before the Games begin, Diver has committed to focussing solely on the Birmingham Games for best preparation and is looking forward to having her family alongside her for the ride.

“It’ll be so special to have Colin (husband) and the boys at the Commonwealth Games this year. Unfortunately, they couldn’t come to Tokyo as international travellers weren’t allowed at the Games, so this will, in part make up for that disappointment,” Diver said.

“I’ll also have some of my family flying over from Ireland. The great thing about having it in the UK is that it’s really close. Anyone who can’t make it over [to England], I’ll be able to catch up with post Games.”

Birmingham 2022 Australian Team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas OAM commented on the strength of the athletics team so far named.

“This is an exciting group who are ready to be bold, brave and brilliant at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham,” Thomas said.

“Today’s selections of the first Athletics Team Members is a wonderful mixture of defending gold medal champions, experienced campaigners, and the next generation who are ready to establish themselves on the world stage.

“Australia has enjoyed a tremendous legacy in athletics at the Commonwealth Games, and I know the Team Members selected today are ready to add their names to that storied history.

“I can’t wait to watch them create their own chapters in Birmingham.”

Athletics Australia CEO Peter Bromley congratulated each athlete on their selection, and thanked Commonwealth Games Australia for their ongoing support.

“2022 is a huge year for the Australian Athletics Team but we are sure that the Commonwealth Games will be a highlight for both us and the rest of the Australian public following along our journey,” Bromley said.

“We’re incredibly proud of this first wave of athletes selected for the team. We have some first time Australian representatives amongst our cohort, and some of our most prolific athletes ready to step up once again and make our country proud.

“I’d like to congratulate these athletes on their selection, and also thank Commonwealth Games Australia for the support they’ve provided to our athletes over this Commonwealth Games cycle.

“Our athletes will be ready to help maintain our position as the number one in the Commonwealth, because of the funding that has been provided to our programs and our athletes.” Commonwealth Games Australia and Athletics Australia are set to announce the final selections of the Australian Athletics Team for Birmingham in late June, following the end of the qualification period.

Article Sourced: Commonwealth Games Australia

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