Nicola McDermott jumps historic 2m mark as 15 Australian athletes qualify for Tokyo 2020

Nicola McDermott celebrates a cleared jump in the Women's High Jump Final during the Australian Track & Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
Nicola McDermott celebrates a cleared jump in the Women's High Jump Final during the Australian Track & Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.

McDermott makes Aussie high jump history, Ash Moloney could do some damage at the Tokyo 2020 decathlon, Jye Edwards stuns Stewart McSweyn, and 15 athletes qualify for the Olympic Games (23 July - 8 August 2021).

High Jumper Nicola McDermott cleared exactly 2.0 metres at the Australian track and field championships on 18 April 2021 to become the first Australian woman to break the all-important 2-metre barrier. McDermott raised the national bar from 1.99m which set last year by Eleanor Patterson.

Both McDermott and Patterson have made the Olympic qualifying standard for the Tokyo Games, and 24-year-old McDermott talked about breaking through that 2m barrier fear factor: "I knew in my body I could do a lot higher but the fear aspect of high jump is the thing that gets to you with the mind."

The new high jump hero is one of eight national record holders among the 15 athletes selected today for the Australian Olympic athletics team: Nina Kennedy, Catriona Bisset, Linden Hall, Ash Moloney, Dani Stevens, Genevieve Gregson, and Brooke Stratton.

Impressive Moloney

Moving on to the multi-sport event, 21-year-old decathlete Ash Moloney also impressed in Sydney, the World Under 20 champion scored 8284 points to claim his close friend and rival Cedric Dubler’s national crown. Moloney is already on the radar of the world’s top decathletes after he scored a world leading mark of 8492 points in December 2020.

In Sydney he improved on his score in the long jump, shot put, 110m hurdles and 1500m over his famous performance in December. Moloney is definitely one to watch in Tokyo.

First Australian in 100m since 2004

Elsewhere rising sprint star Rohan Browning claimed his second 100m national title with a 10.09s, winning him his first Olympic qualification, and says he’s heading to Tokyo with much more in mind than being “a lane filler.”

“I want to make the final and be competitive, that’s what it is all about. As I have said before, I don’t want to be a lane filler like I was in Doha [at the 2019 world championships],” Browning said afterwards.

The 23-year-old will be the first Australian man to compete in an Olympic 100m event since Athens 2004. “It means the world to be selected for my first Olympics, ever since I got in this sport when I was about 16, it was all about Tokyo and I feel like it's now the start of the rest of my career.”

Rohan Browning of New South Wales competes in the Mens 100m heats during the Australian Track and Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 05, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.
Rohan Browning of New South Wales competes in the Mens 100m heats during the Australian Track and Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 05, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.
(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

14th discus title for Dani Stevens

In other results, Jye Edwards stunned Australian middle-distance star Stewart McSweyn to win the men's 1,500m final. National record holder McSweyn took off at the starting gun and surged away from the pack as everyone expected, but unexpectedly, Edwards stayed with him, powering past the favourite on the final stretch.

Edwards clocked 3 mins 33.99s to secure his spot on Australia's Olympic team, just ahead of McSweyn’s 3:34.55. Now McSweyn has to choose between the 1,500m and 5,000m, as it won’t be possible to run both according to the Tokyo schedule.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old Dani Stevens won an incredible 14th national women's discus title and made her fourth Olympic team in the process. A 62.74m throw put Stevens on top of the podium and she became the first Australian to win the same event 14 times at national level.

“This Team has been the hardest one to make and the one I’m most grateful for,” Stevens said. “It’s really special to know I’ll be there in Tokyo. The 15 athletes who had their Olympic berths confirmed will join Kelsey Barber (javelin), Stewart McSweyn (5000m, 10000m), Jess Hull (5000m), Dane Bird-Smith (20km walk) and Jemima Montag (20km walk) who were announced in August 2020,bringing the athletics squad total to 20.

Jye Edwards beats Stewart McSweyn in the Men's 1500m Final during the Australian Track & Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
Jye Edwards beats Stewart McSweyn in the Men's 1500m Final during the Australian Track & Field Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre on April 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Congratulations to the 15

Darren Gocher, Athletics Australia CEO, was full of congratulations for the athletes on their selection.

“The naming of athletes on the Australian Olympic Athletics Team for Tokyo is an incredibly exciting milestone for Olympic veterans and debutants alike, and we’re particularly excited to see what this group of athletes can achieve,” Mr Gocher said. “We’ve witnessed some outstanding performances at the Australian Track and Field Championships this week. It is those performances that have shown the strength of athletics in Australia, and how worthy these athletes are of competing amongst the world’s best in Tokyo.

“I’d like to congratulate these 15 athletes on their selection to the Australian Olympic Team, and I look forward to seeing each of them inspire the nation in just a few months’ time.”