Article by Matt Jones for The Advocate
A STABLE of “competitive animals” will be unleashed on this year’s Basslink Christmas Carnivals Series.
Canberra running coach Matt Beckenham will visit the carnivals for the second year in a row, bringing six of his runners to Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie.
They include Commonwealth Games representatives Melissa Breen, Lauren Boden and Brendan Cole.
Ollie Wurm, who won the 2010 Burnie Gift, will also be part of the squad.
Beckenham said his runners would use the carnivals as a launcing pad for the upcoming domestic season.
“The first big race of the season is in Brisbane on January 14, so they are looking for a good, hard hit-out before then,” Beckenham said.
“They’re all competitive animals and will be keen to get a win over the week.”
Boden, the reigning Australian 400m hurdles champion, will go head to head with former 400m hurdles world champion Jana Pittman at Devonport and Burnie.
Beckenham said it would be a good early season test for the 23-year-old.
“Lauren has the upmost respect for Jana and is celebrating the opportunity to race her,” he said.
“This year she wants to race where Jana is racing, so to do it in Tasmania at the start of the year will be a big thing.”
It will be 400m runner Cole’s first visit to the carnivals, while sprinter Breen competed at Devonport and Burnie last year.
Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania (SCAT) athlete coordinator Rod Walker said Beckenham’s stable added to an already impressive carnivals field.
“The quality and quantity of the runners at this years carnivals is the best we’ve seen since the Cathy Freeman days,” Walker said.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had three Commonwealth Games runners compete at all three of the Coast’s carnivals in the one year.
“They usually only do one or two.
“I know Matt and his stable really enjoyed it here last year and it’s great that he’s bring his best athletes back.”
The Basslink Christmas Carnivals Series gets underway in Rosebery on December 17.