With Tokyo looming, Australian athletics golden era dawns in Sydney | Kieran Pender

The Track and Field Championships, which begin on Monday, look set to usher in a new golden generation of Australian athletics

Barring anything unforeseen, Tokyo 2021 will mark Craig Hilliard’s ninth Olympics. The veteran, who was head coach of Australia’s athletics team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, has only missed one Games – Athens – since making his Olympic coaching debut in 1984. With four decades of experience, Hilliard is well-placed to assess the current strength of Australian athletics. Just three months out from Tokyo, the verdict is buoyant.

“I think we’re moving into one of the brightest periods for Australian athletics,” Hilliard tells Guardian Australia. “Not just this year but leading into Paris and beyond. There are events where we have a number of athletes at the pointy end, and the depth is improving as well. It is an exciting period to be in the sport, and it will be exciting to see where we can go.”

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Related: ‘Why not me?’: Rohan Browning targets rare Australian 100m Olympic medal | Kieran Pender

Related: Browning breaks 17-year 100m Olympic drought by almost cracking 10 seconds

Related: 'I do sport, but it’s not who I am': Nicola McDermott jumping for gold and God in Tokyo | Kieran Pender

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‘Why not me?’: Rohan Browning targets rare Australian 100m Olympic medal | Kieran Pender

After closing on the 10-second barrier, the sprinter has his eyes on making history in Tokyo

In the 125-year history of the modern Olympics, only two Australian men have won a medal in the 100 metre sprint. Stan Rowley claimed bronze at the 1900 Olympics in Paris and Hector Hogan repeated the feat at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. With a keen sense of history, Rohan Browning wants to become the third at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I’m a sports history nerd,” Browning tells Guardian Australia. “I love to watch videos and look at data from past sprinters. Australia hasn’t had an Olympic medallist in the 100m since Hec Hogan. But the question is; why not? Why not me, why not any other Australian? For a lot of casual fans, it is easy to write off Australian athletes because the history isn’t there in the sprint events in terms of winning medals at the highest levels.”

Related: Browning breaks 17-year 100m Olympic drought by almost cracking 10 seconds

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Browning breaks 17-year 100m Olympic drought by almost cracking 10 seconds

  • Browning, 23, clocks 10.05 seconds at Queensland Track Classic
  • Third-fastest Australian of all time behind Johnson, Shirvington

Olympian-in-waiting Rohan Browning can taste more seismic breakthroughs after storming to third on the Australian men’s 100m sprint all-time rankings at the Queensland Track Classic.

The best domestic ensemble assembled for a meet outside of a national championships in more than a decade had the crowd anticipating something special and the 23-year-old delivered with a sizzling 10.05 seconds meet record in the final.

Related: 'I do sport, but it’s not who I am': Nicola McDermott jumping for gold and God in Tokyo | Kieran Pender

An Olympic Qualifier for @Rohan_Browning running 10.05 at the Queensland Track Classic making him the 3rd fastest in Australian history! #thisisathletics pic.twitter.com/YBUPaMi8np

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