Olli Hoare beats Stewart McSweyn, makes claim for Tokyo

Olli Hoare has delivered a performance that demands the Australian selectors pick him on the Olympic team after he beat his Australian rivals head to head in a race off for the last place on the 1500-metre team.

Hoare, who has been running in the US, beat national record holder Stewart McSweyn and his two key challengers for the last available place on the team at the Diamond League meet in Gateshead, England.

Olli Hoare has been running in the US.Credit:AP

He finished second in a relatively slow time of 3:36.58 in difficult conditions, just 0.31 seconds behind Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen. McSweyn was third in 3.37.32.

Hoare’s two key challengers for the third place on the Australian team, Matthew Ramsden and Ryan Gregson, finished fifth and ninth respectively.

“I’ve been in America on my own just pushing the pace, but to be in a race like this with talented individuals able to push the pace was a great indication of how my race preparation is going,” Hoare said.

“I’d never raced a lot of those guys before so to be able to race that tactically and figure where I am and what to improve on, it was fantastic for me. I watched the Diamond League on TV when I was growing up and now I’m here. It was a great opportunity for me and I’m thankful for that.”

He had never raced McSweyn before and, having competed in the US college system and not domestically in Australia, he had not beaten Ramsden or Gregson before in an open race.

Australia has filled two of its three available places on the team for the 1500, with McSweyn already picked and Jye Edwards an automatic selection after he beat McSweyn to win the national title last month when he ran 3:33.99, the second-fastest time this year behind Hoare.

Ramsden has run an Olympic qualifier and Gregson, the former national champion, has been close to breaking the qualifying mark this season.

Australia’s middle distance coach Nic Bideau had asked Hoare to race against his rivals to give the selectors a better form guide than just raw times. Hoare jumped at the chance to compete and stake his claim for the last place on the team.

Bideau had said prior to the race that whoever won would make it almost impossible for the national selectors not to pick them for the last place on the team.

McSweyn confidently took the front for much of the race but was unable to withstand the surge from Ingebrigtsen and Hoare.

“The conditions were tough and there was a lot of up and down pace and pushing which made it challenging, but that’s racing and I think it’s a good chance to learn to race in different conditions,” McSweyn said.

“I was happy to take it on from the front. I prefer to try and keep my performance in my own hands rather than focusing on others in the race too much.”

“I’m definitely looking forward to Doha, it’s a special place for me after last year’s Diamond League. I think I’m going to be better for my first race off the plane today, so I am hoping I can improve on today’s performance.“

“To have four Aussies in a Diamond League race is awesome and shows you the depth, especially with any one of the four of us capable of leading the rest home.”

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