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McDermott on medal level as Australia raises the bar for Tokyo

Nicola McDermott has broken her own Australian women's high record at the Diamond League meet in Stockholm, while the Australian Olympic Team has its own record number of women's participants.

McDermott, 24, cleared 2.01m at the second attempt on Sunday night (early Monday AEST), adding one centimetre to her previous best set at the national Olympic trials in Sydney in April.

Countrywoman Eleanor Patterson - the 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist - also impressed in the Swedish capital by finishing third with a 1.96m jump.

Ukraine's Yaroslava Mahuchikh won the high-level competition with 2.03m, which was the best clearance anywhere in the world this year.

McDermott's record-breaking 2.01m would have been good enough to claim high jump gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and would have had her on the podium at any previous Games except for 2004 in Athens.

McDermott said:

"Today I wasn't feeling 100 per cent, but I knew that didn't mean it wasn't possible to jump two metres.
"To do this today is a gift, it's great.
"I've got a good system and a good routine, but I have faith that allows me to jump a lot higher than my body is really capable of.
"I think 2.01m is certainly possible to be in the medals, so I'm aiming and training as if it's already sealed and I'm just believing that I can do it."

McDermott also had three cracks at 2.03m for just the second time in her career, saying:

"I really enjoy the feeling of flying once reaching those heights over two metres.
"Over the past few years when I have been growing, my faith in God seems to make my fears and doubts of what I can jump disappear, so I don't see 2.03m as intimidating at all."

In other Diamond League action at the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, Australian record-holder Catriona Bisset was fifth in 1:59.13 in a red-hot women's 800m won by Cuban Rose Mary Almanza in 1:56.28.

Genevieve Gregson was seventh in the women's 3000m steeplechase, recording 9:23.24 - her fastest time in five years.

Australia's team for the Tokyo Olympics will feature a record number of women and Indigenous athletes among the 472 competitors.

The team for the Games, starting on July 23, includes 254 women and 218 men, with 16 Indigenous athletes.

The number of female athletes is 40 more than the nation's previous most at a Games, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 16 Indigenous athletes number four more than at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Australia's team is the second-largest to contest an away Olympics, 10 shy of the 482 athletes who contested the 2004 Athens Games.

Australians will compete in 33 sports in Tokyo including all four new Olympic sports of karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

At the Rio Games, Australia won eight gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals but the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has stopped publicly setting a medal target for the Games.

Australia’s chef de mission, Ian Chesterman, said:

"The AOC has talked about not setting medal targets and placing unhelpful expectations on these athletes.
"Given the events of the past 18 months, this has been the correct path, getting to the start line has been so difficult.
"They don't need pressure from us."

Equestrian veteran Andrew Hoy will contest his eighth Olympics, a record for an Australian.

And fellow equestrian stalwart Mary Hanna and table tennis' Jian Fang Lay will compete at their sixth Games, a joint record for an Australian female.

Cyclist Cameron Meyer withdrew from the team for personal reasons at the weekend, while two changes were made to Australia's men's soccer team with Marco Tilio and Jay Rich-Baghuelou replacing Ramy Najjarine and Ruon Tongyik.


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