Medal hopes aplenty for Australian athletes in Paris


The 2024 Paris Olympics will fall right in the sweet spot for the cream of the Australian athletics squad, who are well placed to record their best overall performance at a global championships in more than half a century.

Nearly all of the serious contenders are now in the prime of their career, most with major medals already in their keeping.

High jump queens Eleanor Patterson and Nicola Olyslagers closed out the Budapest world championships in style with silver and bronze on Sunday (early Monday AEST), lifting Australia's medal haul to six.

That was two more than any green and gold squad had ever previously won at a world titles.

More significantly, you have to go all the way back to the glory days of Ralph Doubell, Maureen Caird, Raelene Boyle, Peter Norman and Co at the 1968 Mexico City Games for the last time Australia pocketed half a dozen track and field medals at world or Olympic level.

Now, more than 50 years later, there is a squad with the credentials, self-belief and strength in depth to match - or even potentially eclipse - them.

All six of Australia's medallists at the Budapest world championships - headed by pole vault winner Nina Kennedy - will be aged between 26 and 28 and in the prime of their careers at the Paris Olympics.

So will Commonwealth 1500m champ Olli Hoare, who missed the 2023 world titles due to injury.

Also in that age bracket is discus titan Matt Denny, whose fourth-placed finish in Budapest was his fourth straight top-six at a major.

Middle-distance contenders Jessica Hull and Abbey Caldwell will be 27 and 23 respectively.

And two-time world javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber - whowas disappointed to slip to seventh in the Hungarian capital - will be 32, which is far from old for an elite female thrower.

"We can do anything in Paris to be honest," Australia's high-performance boss Andrew Faichney told reporters in Budapest.

"We have now got athletes who come to this environment who know they belong.

"And not only that, they own it.

"To be able to come in and deliver that level of success and then you have everyone start believing that they are coming here to perform at that medal level is an amazing turnaround from the last few years."

Defending high jump champion Patterson and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Olyslagers rounded out the championships in style, becoming the first Australians in 56 years to claim podium finishes at a global championships in the same event.

"The performances of the Australian team have been incredible," said Patterson, who has already turned her focus towards Paris.

"Being at the end of the program it was so inspiring to see so many athletes come out and put their best foot forward."

One pressing issue for senior management at Athletics Australia is trying to mend the relationship with Peter Bol.

After only discovering a matter of weeks ago that Sport Integrity Australia was dropping an anti-doping investigation against him, the Tokyo Olympics 800m finalist and Commonwealth Games silver medallist was understandably well below his best in Budapest, where he was run out in the heats.

The Athletics Integrity Unit called the whole process a "disaster" and Bol remains at loggerheads with AA over what he feels was their role in the matter becoming public.

AA strongly denies doing anything wrong.

"Peter has had one of the most difficult years that anyone could possibly imagine and for him to be here was just amazing in itself," said Faichney..