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HomeLatest NewsThe Resurgence of Australian Athletics: A Summer to Remember

The Resurgence of Australian Athletics: A Summer to Remember

MELBOURNE: Australian athletics has experienced a surge in popularity and in its performances, as evidenced by record-breaking results achieved during the Chemist Warehouse Australian Summer of Athletics.

From December 2022 through to mid-April 2023, Athletics Australia hosted five high performance meets topped by the highly successful Maurie Plant Meet – Melbourne and the 100th edition of the Australian Track and Field Championships, showcasing some of the world’s best track and field talent.

Delivered in conjunction with Athletics Australia’s State Member Associations, the meets provided a significant boost with the help of world-class performances, and the Australian public responded with delight.

One of the most notable achievements of the season was the monumental increase in broadcast viewership, with record numbers tuning in to watch the domestic season on 7plus.

The 622% rise in viewers tuning in to watch each meet unfold through the digital platform can be attributed to an increase in engagement with the Seven Network, and Seven’s Olympic commentary team who contributed their expertise and passion to the sport.

It wasn’t just television audiences that were blown away by the domestic season. The live events saw an incredible 167% increase in attendance compared to the 2022 season, which followed on from the hype of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Fans flocked to see their favourite athletes in action and were not disappointed.

Quality performances were aplenty over the summer season, with eight Australian records, six international records, two Australian Allcomers records and 17 meet records all shattered during the four high performance meets alone.

According to World Athletics data that assesses the depth and quality of athletes and performances across a meet, the Australian Track and Field Championships hit an all-time high in terms of ranking points; with 160,596 points scored, edging out 2018 edition’s 159,837.

The Maurie Plant Meet was Australia’s most successful invitational meet, followed by the Brisbane Track Classic and Sydney Track Classic. All three meetings scored higher than any Australian domestic meet since the 2018 Queensland Track Classic held in the lead up to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Events were of world-class standards, with the Men’s Mile at the Maurie Plant Meet, taken out by Commonwealth champion Olli Hoare as the top ranked event of the season. The Women’s 1500m, won by Jessica Hull was considered the event of the Australian Track and Field Championships, with the top five women achieving times scoring over 1100 points.

Social media was also buzzing with activity, with fans sharing their favourite moments and highlights from the season across various platforms.  Athletics Australia’s digital reach exceeded expectations, up by more than 30 per cent on Facebook and Instagram, with fan engagement increasing by 50 per cent Instagram for a combined reach of over 16 million, with fan engagement increasing by 50 per cent.

Impressions on Twitter were also up by 15.4% in comparison to last year’s season, and Athletics Australia’s TikTok account saw videos reach over one million views, highlighting that the Summer of Athletics truly captured the attention of Australians.

Fans engaged with the events and athletes through various platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and TikTok with athletes sharing behind the scenes content and personal insights, giving fans a deeper connection to the sport.

Jessica Hull who became the first Australian woman to win three titles in one season (1500m, 3000m and 5000m) said:

“Being part of the resurgence this domestic season has been super fun and energising. It didn’t matter whether it was cross country or track and field in this first part of the year, we saw that if our best athletes are out there racing and embracing home crowds, people will come and fill the stands.

“It’s important for us to support the domestic season where we can and carry the momentum overseas with us. Being able to compete against quality fields in Australia also sharpens and prepares us for what we’ll face from our international competitors. It’s going to be extra special for those of us who head away and compete internationally this year after seeing first hand the support we have at home.”

Echoing Hull’s words, Australia’s fastest man Rohan Browning who ended his season with a 10.02 at the Australian Track and Field Championships said, “It’s important to run and run at home in front of a crowd. This has been the best single tour that I’ve ever been a part of in Australia, and all the meets have been incredible to be a part of. A big thank you to all the people behind the scenes that have made that happen.”

Athletics Australia Chief Executive Officer Peter Bromley expressed his excitement about the sport’s rising stocks and his appreciation of the support from athletes, coaches, officials and member associations.

“The Chemist Warehouse Australian Summer of Athletics has confirmed what we have known for a very long time; athletics in Australia is on the up, with the season showcasing the extraordinary talent of our athletes and the passion of our fans,” Bromley said.

“The record-breaking results achieved in viewership, attendance, quality of performance and fan engagement online highlights the growing interest in the sport in Australia, and sets us up well for an event stronger domestic season in 2024, ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic year.

“We look forward to building on the momentum of this summer to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans, and of course, to continue growing the sport in this country. I’d like to thank our fans, new and old, our sponsors and partners, including World Athletics, Oceania Athletics, Chemist Warehouse and Puma, who have contributed to the growth, and of course, our athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff that work so tirelessly with passion.

“This combined with our success in hosting the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst has put Australian Athletics on the world stage.”

While the Australian Summer of Athletics has now concluded, athletes will turn their attention to the international season ahead before the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris and the World Athletics Championships in Budapest this July and August respectively.

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