Olympic athlete Jenny Blundell will use the Hunter Pure Performance Track Challenge in Newcastle on Saturday as a test event as she gears up her qualification bid for a second straight Games appearance.
Sydney-based Blundell, who has recently been training around Lake Macquarie, will contest the mixed 3000 metres at the Fearnley Dawes Athletics Track before pursuing the times she needs to make the team for Tokyo later this year.
The 26-year-old, who represented Australia at Rio in 2016 and reached the women's 1500m semi-finals, said the selection process remains the same as 12 months ago but is wary of coronavirus again playing a role.
"I will be running in the mixed 3000m to get a good indication of where I am at early January before I start chasing the times," Blundell told the Newcastle Herald.
"Qualifying for Tokyo at this moment remains the same as last year. I will be chasing the qualifier for both the 1500m and 5000m.
"There's also a points system in place, however, given the current situation with coronavirus running the qualifier time is more important."
Blundell, an exercise physiologist at Hills Private Hospital coached by James Fitzgerald in Parramatta, is no stranger to the region having raced the former Hunter Track Classic at Glendale on multiple occasions.
More recently she returned, first before Christmas to train and travel to Brisbane for the Queensland 5000m Championships and now chasing competition.
"I am here to train for a little while until I can cross the borders to race interstate and lucky for me the HTC was on this weekend," she said.
"I am in Warners Bay. I train along the footpaths there, the Fernleigh Track, the Fearnley Dawes Athletics Track and Marks Point grass track."
Blundell has been close but not yet posted any Olympic qualifiers, which stand at four minutes and 4.2 seconds for the 1500m and 15:10 for her added 5000m distance.
"Last year at the Sydney Track Classic, right before COVID-19 cancelled the races, I came within a second of the 1500m and 10 seconds of the 5000m. Qualification was then suspended from April to November 29 last year. Now it's open again," she said.
Blundell has a few events circled in the coming months.
"There are some great distances runners in Melbourne so I'm trying to get there to race them," she said.
"There's a meet called Zatopek on Australia Day if I can go. There will always be inter club, state championships and Sydney Track Classic to race here in NSW if I can't race interstate."