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Aussie sprinters gather for Commonwealth Games trials preview

by ZwemZa on December 10th, 2017
Kyle Chalmers, left, and Cameron McEvoy head the list of elite sprinters competing for the three positions. Picture: Getty Images

Kyle Chalmers, left, and Cameron McEvoy head the list of elite sprinters competing for the three positions. Picture: Getty Images

The men’s 100m freestyle final at the Queensland championships tonight will provide a tantalising preview of what will be a brutal selection race at the Commonwealth Games trials in February-March.

All of Australia’s top male sprinters have gathered in Brisbane knowing that only three of them can win the highly-prized places in the 100m event for the Gold Coast Games in April.

That means at least one world-class sprinter from the group including Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers, Pan Pacific champion Cameron McEvoy, former world champion James Magnussen, teenage world championships finalist Jack Cartwright and dual Olympian James Roberts, will miss out.

All five sprinters, along with leading French speedster Clement Mignon (currently training with McEvoy on the Gold Coast), will contest the blue riband sprint event at the Chandler Aquatic Centre today.

Current Australian No 1 McEvoy is trying to replicate the training season he put together before the 2016 Olympic trials, where he set the fastest time ever without the aid of a bodysuit (47.04sec), which means he has been focused on longer work leading into this meet.

He even set a personal best 400m freestyle time of 3:41.24 (short-course) at the Singapore World Cup last month, which indicates he is coming into the competition season with a strong foundation.

His coach Richard Scarce said having Mignon (personal best of 48.01 sec) to train with had also benefited the Australian.

Scarce has given his squad one “soft’’ training day leading into this meet to leave them fresh enough to race well.

He said he expected the 100m final would give “a bit of an indication’’ of each sprinter’s progress, but warned that there was “a fair amount of preparation still to be done’’.

Cartwright, who emerged as a threat to the established order this year, will race for the first time since the world titles in July, where he broke 48 seconds for the first time (47.97sec) to reach his first world championships final.

His coach Dean Boxall revealed that the Brisbane teenager was hampered by a shoulder injury on his way to Budapest for the world titles and they have spent much of the past four months getting him right for this season.

Meanwhile, both Chalmers and Magnussen will be trying to re-establish themselves at the top of the pecking order.

Chalmers was top of the heap in Rio little more than a year ago but must fight his way back up the ranks after heart surgery ruled him out of the world titles. Magnussen is in a similar position as he tries to rediscover his best form after a shoulder reconstruction in 2015.

The women’s 100m freestyle should be equally lively, featuring Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon, Shayna Jack, Brittany Elmslie and Emily Seebohm.

Most of Australia’s international medallists of the past two years will compete in Brisbane, with the noticeable exception of Olympic 200m butterfly silver medallist Maddie Groves, who had surgery last month for endometriosis, the same condition that ruined Seebohm’s Rio Olympic campaign.

Groves has had a difficult year. She had to fight to clear her name after she was charged with an anti-doping violation in April, for missing three drug tests in a calendar year.

She proved to the International Swimming Federation that the drug testers failed to make sufficient effort to find her for the third test and was exonerated in October.

But her current health issues have prevented her from gaining any training momentum and she remains in doubt for the Commonwealth Games.

Nicole Jeffery | The Australian

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