Gold Coast 2018: Athletes to look out for

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Trae Williams wins the 100m in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games.

By KAVISHA DI PETRO

With hometown hero Sally Pearson pulling out of the Games just days before competition due to injury, the focus has shifted to Australia’s next best medal hopes.

Since its inception in the inaugural games, athletics is Australia’s most successful sport behind swimming with 459 medals, including 183 gold, and Australia will be looking to add to this tally.

These games are a changing of the guard for Australian Athletics with a number of Australia’s best medal hopes competing at their first Games.  

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With Sally Pearson out, Jamaica’s Megan Simmonds (middle) looks likely to star. 

Key athletes – the world

Megan Simmonds – Jamaica

With Australian hurdler Sally Pearson no longer competing, Jamaican champion Megan Simmonds looks the favourite to take home gold. With a personal best time of 12.79s across 100m, Simmonds biggest threat will be England’s Tiffany Porter who was second in the Glasgow games.

Yohan Blake – Jamaica

With countryman Usain Bolt now retired, Yohan Blake will be looking to take home gold in this year’s 100m. The dual Olympic silver medallist holds the second fastest 100m sprint time at 9.69s but is yet to win a Commonwealth medal and he should comfortably add one to his trophy cabinet at this year’s Games.

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Kurt Fearnley with the baton at the start of the Games. 

Key athletes – hometown heroes

Trae Williams – Queensland

Rocketing into Games medal contention after clocking Australia’s fourth fastest time ever over 100m, “Quadzilla” cemented himself as Australia’s sprint king. The 20-year-old has seen himself equal or better his personal best times this season and if he can maintain his form, Williams will be a chance for the podium.

Morgan Mitchell – Victoria

The Victorian-born 400m sprinter had a challenging 2017, including a change of coach, but a recent run of strong form sees Mitchell as Australia’s best medal hope in the sprint. In the lead up to February’s National Championships, Mitchell went undefeated in five races over 400m before placing third in the competition with a season-best time of 52.69s.

Kurt Fearnley – New South Wales

37-year-old Kurt Fearnley will be looking to add to his collection of 14 Paralympic medals in this year’s T54 Men’s marathon. Entering the event placed second, and with Ernst Francois van Dyk of South Africa not competing, Fearnley will enter the race as the favourite for gold.

The Athletics competition begins on April 8 with events at Carrara Stadium and Currumbin Beachfront.