Collis Birmingham to bypass Zatopek

TWO-TIME Zatopek: 10 winner Collis Birmingham will bypass the race for a second year in a row.

The international long-distance runner, who won the Australian 10,000m championship race in 2007 and 2009, will miss tonight’s event as he is in the midst of a heavy training schedule.

Birmingham will, however, have a keen interest in the men’s event.

The 27-year-old will be cheering on Brett Robinson, a Canberra-based athlete who has spent the past couple of months living and training with him here in Ballarat.

Birmingham said while the race was Robinson’s first at 10,000m, he was shaping as one of the early favourites to take home the title.

“He’s been training pretty well since he’s been here. I think he’s enjoying Ballarat a lot with all its different training locations. Everything seems to be going pretty well for him,” Birmingham said.

Robinson has been joined in Ballarat by current national 1500m record holder Ryan Gregson, from Wollongong.

Birmingham is also planning to bring across another three overseas runners, who came and trained in Ballarat earlier in the year.

“(Robinson and Gregson) are amazed at how much there is to do here. It’s good for me to hear that sort of stuff.

“I’ve always loved training in Ballarat and it’s good that other people are coming here and enjoying it as well.

Ballarat runners will have a strong hand in today’s Zatopek: 10 meet at Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park.

Rhiannon White will start in the under-20 women’s 3000m, Jack Davies, Stewart McSweyn and Mitch Thompson in the under-20 men’s 3000m as well as Victorian half marathon champion Duer Yoa and Tyson Popplestone in the men’s 10,000m.

Joel Bee will also contest the men’s open 100 yards.

tim.oconnor@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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