Australian long-distance running star Stewart McSweyn has wrapped up an unprecedented year in incredible style in the most unlikely of places.
The main point:
- McSweyn ran a mile in three minutes 50.61 seconds, the fastest for a year in the entire world
- This is the fastest mile traveled by an Australian in 15 years
- McSweyn previously also broke Australian records of 1,500m and 3,000m
Competing in the Tasmania Christmas Carnival gathering in Penguin (population 3,849 at last count), McSweyn took the lead in a three-minute 50.61 second long-distance race on Tuesday night.
It is the fastest distance run anywhere in the world in 2020 and fastest by an Australian in 15 years.
“Penguin is probably not the place most people associate with sprinting so it’s pretty cool to put on a good show in front of the crowd,” said McSweyn, who is from nearby King Island.
“It’s one of those old lines like you find in a lot of places around Australia.
Obviously nothing comes close to the track standards we get in Europe, especially in the Diamond League.
“But for rural areas, it’s really a decent track.”
The win rounded off an extraordinary season for the 25-year-old, who also broke the long-standing national 1,500m and 3,000m records on the Diamond League circuit and is now shaping the original medal shot at the rescheduled Tokyo 2021 Olympics.
While many of Australia’s biggest track and field stars have chosen to stay at home due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, McSweyn and his Melbourne Track Club teammates traveled to Europe to spend the summer in the northern hemisphere.
The decision paid off, although the likes of McSweyn and coaching partners including Ryan and Genevieve Gregson, Brett Robinson and Matthew Ramsden had to endure a nervous two-week wait in London before finally securing a flight home in late October.
Then there was the mandatory two-week quarantine assignment in Brisbane, which would at least allow McSweyn to continue his university studies.
“Obviously we have an advantage,” said McSweyn.
“I can use 2020 as a running practice for 2021.
“Having a lot of high standard races abroad gives us an advantage because it’s difficult if you get a year off to try and find your best again in person.”
McSweyn’s favorite appearance of the year came in Doha at the end of September, when he won the 1,500m to enter 10-year-old Ryan Gregson’s national mark into the history books.
“Not because I broke the record but purely because I was able to run the race I wanted to do,” he said.
“The Diamond League is where everyone is watching and you can put yourself on the map.
“It was the biggest race I have ever won.”
McSweyn has yet to decide on his racing program for the Tokyo Olympics, although 1,500m is priority number one.
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