Athletics: Commonwealth Games on radar of Newcastle discus thrower Benn Harradine

AIM: Newcastle discus thrower Benn Harradine will strive to make a fourth Commonwealth Games in 2018. He needs a top-three finish at next month's national championships to reach the Gold Coast meet. Picture: Peter Stoop
AIM: Newcastle discus thrower Benn Harradine will strive to make a fourth Commonwealth Games in 2018. He needs a top-three finish at next month's national championships to reach the Gold Coast meet. Picture: Peter Stoop

Benn Harradine will look to add a fourth Commonwealth Games to his decorated-discus CV this year, but despite having already thrown a qualifier he needs to finish top three at next month’s Australian Athletics Championships. 

The 35-year-old from Eleebana, now based in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, wants to don the green and gold uniform on the Gold Coast in April but to book his ticket he must return home to medal at nationals. 

“Benn wants to have a serious crack at these Games,” Harradine’s Australian-based coach and father Ken told the Newcastle Herald on Monday.

“But he has to come out and compete at nationals to get a spot. Only three go [for discus], and there’s four contenders. Benn has to beat at least one of them.”

The main competition for Harradine – the 2008 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, a three-time Olympian and five-time World Championships representative – to make the upcoming Australian team comes in the shape of Mitchell Cooper, Matthew Denny and Julian Wruck.     

The quartet are all capable of producing efforts over 60 metres. Last year not much separated their best throws with Harradine (64.67m) ahead of Cooper (63.98m) and then Denny (63.15m) followed by Wruck (61.56m).    

“Benn’s been back in full training for about six months, but there’s a bit of work to do yet,” Ken said.

Team Harradine recently spent three weeks together at Chula Vista, the former US Olympic training centre in California just north of the Mexican border.    

“Even though it’s winter over there, the days are 24-25 degrees with nothing but sunshine,” Ken said.

“And the facilities are wonderful. You wouldn’t believe them unless you saw them. There’s eight circles and you can throw from both sides. Plus a massive gym with all brand new equipment.”

Harradine is due back in Australia later this month depending on work commitments but will more than likely miss the Hunter Track Classic on January 20 and potentially state events in Canberra (January 26-28), Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide (February 2-4). 

Alternatively, ISTAF Indoor in Berlin (January 26) and a Victorian throw meeting at Geelong on February 3 could be used by Harradine in the lead up to the all-important nationals on the Gold Coast (February 15-18). 

“We’re looking for two or three competitions before nationals,” Ken said.

Harradine narrowly missed the podium four years ago in Glasgow finishing fourth and this Commonwealth Games could be an international farewell of sorts with coach Ken unsure if his star will continue onto the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  

“I’m not sure what he wants to do with his future,” Ken said.

“He’ll probably make a decision after the Commonwealth Games.”

Meanwhile, the Hunter Track Classic will welcome a host of Commonwealth Games aspirants to Glendale on January 20 including Rio Olympians Morgan Mitchell and Eleanor Patterson.