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PREVIEW: Aussie Track & Field

Posted: 13-Jul-2013 by Maccabi National

Australia will take a high calibre 21-strong team to Israel to compete in track and field and long distance events at the Maccabiah Games, headlined by 400m Olympic finalist Steven Solomon, and captained by 100m sprinter and longer jumper Robbie Baskin at his third Maccabiah Games.

The junior squad features two competitors to have won Australian titles: Elizabeth Baral and Jemima Montag.

15-year-old Baral, from Sydney, holds the Australian under-16 and under-17 pole vault crowns, and is a strong contender for gold in Israel.

Montag has won two Aussie titles in the three-kilometre walk during the career and is one of the best in the country in the event in her age group. There are no walking events at Maccabiah, but the 15-year-old Victorian will contest the three kilometre run – and her best time has her right in the mix for a medal based on the 2009 results.

Australia will boast a formidable 4x100m relay team. Baral will be joined by Ella Regan-Lacey, a 100m sprinter with a personal best of 12.55s, who won the Bondi Bolt even in Sydney last month; Rebecca Metzger, a sprinter and hurdler from Sydney, and Piper Montag, a handy sprinter and the Victorian champion in the under-14 triple jump and shot put.

“This Australian relay team will be very hard to beat in Israel,” section manager Len Bogatin enthused.

“We have never had such a strong junior women’s squad”.

Baskin, who won the men’s edition of the Bondi Bolt, returns for his third Games, and second as an open athlete.

“Robbie has shaken off injury through the season and is running close to his best – which is around 10.80s - electric for the 100m,” Bogatin said.

“He is very keen to medal in Israel where he will have to run 10.80 or quicker (10.79 placed third last Games).

“There is a gun sprinter on the American team, Sean Bernstein, who has recently run 10.44 seconds!”

Australia will also feature prominently over the longer distances.

19-year-old Tashi Kahn, who also a black belt in karate, has come from nowhere to qualify for the Games but is in outstanding form at the right time.

Emily Nathan, who ran 85m 47s to finish in the top 20 female competitors in the Sydney Half Marathon in May, has the form on the board to medal in the opens half marathon.

“Her improvement has been phenomenal – a result of hard training with an elite squad and coach,” Bogatin said of Nathan, who slashed her time by almost 10 minutes over 12 months.

“The weather is very taxing in Tel Aviv in July, especially for distance runners, but Emily has been training on the road and indoors on the tread mill in hot and humid conditions to acclimatise her body for the heat and humidity of Israel.”

The Masters half marathon runners are a big chance of winning medals – with the outstanding runners being Jo Loewenstein (West Australia) in the 50-59 year age group (Jo won a silver last Maccabiah in the women’s 40-49 age group), Braham Shnider (Victoria) in the men’s 50-59 age group and John Mann (resident in USA) in the over-60 age bracket. Australia will also be competing in the teams events in the half (minimum of three runners) in the Open Men over 40 men and over 60 men events.

By David Weiner

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