Novocastrian Benn Harradine chases Gold Coast Commonwealth Games spot at Australian Athletics Championships

SHOT: Three-time Olympian Benn Harradine will contest the Australian Athletics Championships preliminaries at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games venue Carrara Stadium from Thursday night. Picture: Peter Stoop
SHOT: Three-time Olympian Benn Harradine will contest the Australian Athletics Championships preliminaries at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games venue Carrara Stadium from Thursday night. Picture: Peter Stoop

Three throws.

That’s what it comes down to for Eleebana’s Benn Harradine as the 35-year-old aims to qualify for a fourth Commonwealth Games.  

The Swedish-based Novocastrian heads to Gold Coast’s Carrara Stadium for the 2018 Australian Athletics Championships with performance in Thursday’s discus preliminaries pivotal.

The national record holder, with an effort of 68.20 metres from 2013, is one of 14 entered in the field event and hopes to reach Friday’s final.

He must then finish on the podium, achieved nine times before, to book one of two definite or three potential spots for April’s home competition despite already having two A-qualifiers (61.9m) and six B-qualifiers (59.1m) during the last 12 months. 

“It’s very high pressure,” coach and father Ken Harradine said. “Three throws and that’s it [in preliminaries]. They are always the toughest.”

The 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games champion recorded 60.05m at his latest outing in Melbourne on Sunday after returning from Europe for nationals.

At the same meet Victoria’s Kathryn Mitchell produced an unofficial Australian women’s javelin record of 67.58m just two days after the death of Australian men’s javelin record holder Jarrod Bannister. 

“RIP to our best javelin thrower ever and proud teammate,” Harradine posted on social media. “Much love and support to his family and friends. Gone too soon. Black armbands at nationals to honour Jarrod.”

The three other main contenders for discus positions are Mitch Cooper, Matt Denny and Julian Wruck, who have all thrown over 61.50m since March.   

Also flying the Hunter flag at nationals until Sunday are Paralympians Kurt Fearnley and Rheed McCracken plus heptathlete Sopie Stanwell. 

They are vying for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games spots alongside triple jumper Shaun Fletcher, 1500m runners Tia Brady and Bridey Delaney, shot putter Aiden Harvey as well as Guy Walters in the 3000m steeplechase.  

Charlestown’s Erin Cleaver, Newcastle-born Cameron Crombie and Scott Westcott-trained Celia Sullohern were three of the initial first 14 individuals named on the team by Athletics Australia last month.