US sprinting sensation Fred Kerley has hit the track in Melbourne ahead of Thursday night’s inaugural Maurie Plant Meet, and says he is in top form going into his first race in Australia.
The Tokyo Olympics 100m silver medallist said he was eager to visit all parts of the world during his career, but had no intention of coasting through Melbourne’s revamped annual track and field meeting, which has been elevated to the second tier of world athletics with substantial ranking points up for grabs.
“This was one of my last continents to compete on … it’ll be a wonderful competition,” Kerley said.
“Every time I step on track, it should be something fast. I know my training has been going good, so hopefully I can back it up with some good times.”
Kerley said he had “double gold” on his mind and was focusing particularly on the 200m event where he had missed out in Tokyo, telling fans they could witness a sub-20 second time at Lakeside Stadium on Thursday.
Australia’s fastest man Rohan Browning made no such promises as he prepared to run his first 200m since early 2021, warning that “traditionally I’ve been pretty bad at them”.
The long-term plan for the 25-year-old was to compete in both distances at major events, he said.
“I really have no idea and no prediction about what I’m going to run in the 200 … I haven’t done many of them,” he said.
“It’ll be a new challenge, but obviously running against fast guys will hopefully bring out the best.
It’s something I want to focus on more in the future, so I’m pretty excited for it.”
Browning said he was “training the house down” ahead of the event, which he saw as a great opportunity to grow athletics in Australia.
It’s really significant for the sport to bring really class athletes here. It just makes such a big difference … hopefully the crowd is packed and just as enthusiastic as it was (at the Adelaide Invitational),” he said.
“Getting kids out here to see class athletes and really high quality competition is really important for the sport.”
Australian star Genevieve Gregson will return from the heartbreaking Achilles injury she suffered in the Olympic 3000-metre steeplechase final, where she will compete in the women’s 3000m.
Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz has also arrived in Melbourne from the US for the meet, where he will take on Australia’s Commonwealth Games record holder Ollie Hoare.