Athletics: Celia Sullohern uses Australian Athletics Championships as test event for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

SECOND CHANCE: Fernleigh 15 record holder Celia Sullohern, coached by Hunter Olympian Scott Westcott, will compete in the women's 5000 metres at the Australian Athletics Championships on Friday having already secured a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games spot in the 10,000m. Picture: Marina Neil
SECOND CHANCE: Fernleigh 15 record holder Celia Sullohern, coached by Hunter Olympian Scott Westcott, will compete in the women's 5000 metres at the Australian Athletics Championships on Friday having already secured a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games spot in the 10,000m. Picture: Marina Neil

Celia Sullohern will use the 2018 Australian Athletics Championships as a chance to test the Carrara Stadium track ahead of April’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.  

With a spot on the national team already assured courtesy of her Zatopek 10,000 metre title in Melbourne in December, the 25-year-old will compete in the shorter 5000m event on Friday night (7:25pm).   

Sullohern’s Hunter-based coach, Rio Olympian Scott Westcott, said the upcoming race was about the experience and process than it was about results and potential further qualification.  

“Most importantly it’s a chance to run on the track and just get a feel for it,” Westcott said.

“It’s being used as a test event for the Commonwealth Games so it’s about going through all the processes she will in seven weeks time.

“I don’t think she’s expecting, nor am I, one of the spots in the 5km. But she probably wouldn’t knock it back if she had a blinder. She’ll be strong and up with the girls until the final sprint, we’ll see what’s left then.”

It has been a meteoric rise for Sullohern during the last five months.

The former Newcastle resident, who is living and working in the northern NSW town of Yamba, kick started the run with a win at the famed City2Surf crown in Sydney in August.

This was followed by victory at the Melbourne Marathon in October with a career-best time breaking two-and-a-half-hours, but falling 13 seconds short of a top-three spot for the Commonwealth Games.

Just a week later she reset her own record at Hunter event the Ferleigh 15 before going onto earn a position at the Gold Coast via a national 10km prize in a B-qualifying mark of 32:31.22.

“It all started with the City2Surf and just snowballed from there,” Westcott said.

Elsewhere on Friday’s card at the Australian Athletics Championships and former Belmont runner Leigh Bennett will look to podium in the men’s 400 metre hurdles for a fifth time following last year’s silver medal. 

Georgetown’s Sophie Stanwell, who finished fourth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games with a personal-best score of 5754 points, will complete her heptathlon with long jump (10am), javelin (1:30pm) and the 800m (5:10pm). The 26-year-old, who missed last season recovering from a foot injury, was backing up after Thursday’s 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m.

Eleebana discus thrower and 2010 Commonwealth champion Benn Harradine was hoping to make it through Thursday night’s preliminary round and qualify for Friday’s final.