It’s been a big week in Rio for Athletics Essendon, with club members Linden Hall, Liam Adams and Chris Erickson representing both the red and black and the green and gold with distinction as members of the Australian Olympic team.
Hall kicked things off on the first day of the athletics program. The 25-year-old Olympic debutante entered Rio as Australia’s top-ranked 1500m runner, having slashed a whopping nine seconds from her personal best through the year to clock 4min 1.78sec and move to third spot on the Australian all-time list.
After cruising through her heat to join fellow Aussies Zoe Buckman and Jenny Blundell in the second round, she missed a final berth by the barest of margins, but her impressive semi-final run of 4:05.81 to take eighth after getting caught a long way back early suggests she could well a major contender in international finals in coming years.
Also making his Olympic debut was Liam Adams, who lined up on the final day of competition in the men’s marathon.
The Commonwealth Games representative and seven-time World Cross Country Championships representative had long been one of the best of the current crop of Australian distance runners not to make an Olympic team, but that all changed when he secured selection for Rio with a last-ditch qualifying effort in Warsaw in April.
The 29-year-old didn’t waste his opportunity, running 2hr 16min 12sec to finish 31st and as the first Australian, comfortably beating home compatriots Michael Shelley (47th) and Scott Westcott (81st).
In contrast to Hall and Adams, Chris Erickson entered Rio as an experienced Olympic campaigner, having contested the 20km race walk in Beijing and London.
In Rio, he stepped up to the 50km event, and he showed all his experience in producing the race of his career, setting a personal best of 3hr 48min 40sec to finish behind fellow Australian and silver medallist Jared Tallent in 10th place – a huge improvement on his previous highest placing of 32nd in London.
The performances of all three athletes have further strengthened Essendon’s reputation as a breeding ground for Olympic talent, with the club having fielded representatives at every Games since 1964.
Athletics Essendon congratulates Linden Hall, Liam Adams and Chris Erickson on their outstanding efforts in Rio.