Australia’s fastest man Rohan Browning has made his first appearance at this year’s national athletics championships, but as he eased into competition the next generation of sprinting talent took centre stage.

Browning qualified for Saturday’s semi-finals third fastest, winning his heat but largely cruising to a time of 10.43.

It was a steady start for a man who harbours aspirations of breaking the 10-second barrier, and who is spending his year tuning up for an assault on Paris.

“I’ve been carrying a little knee niggle and I haven’t been able to do any accelerations for the last three weeks,” Browning said.

“I feel like I’m probably a week away from being fully, fully fit. But the Championships are this week, so I have to turn up.

“I think my top end’s really good, but I’ve got to be able to set the race up.”

Just weeks after breaking the women’s national 100m record, Torrie Lewis opted against running in the event at the national championships, choosing to focus on the 200m while staying sharp for an upcoming relay camp.

But if there was a vacuum left in Adelaide by Browning’s steady start and Lewis’s deference, rising star Gout Gout was all too happy to fill it.

Over the first two days of the national championships, nobody has caused a bigger stir than Gout.

Gout Gout became the Australian U20 100m champion at just 16 years of age.(Getty Images: Sarah Reed)

Undaunted by the weight of expectation and his youth even in an underage field — “I don’t think I’ve heard of any 16-year-old being an under 20 champion,” he says — Gout overcame a sluggish start to charge home to 100m victory on Thursday.

On Friday Gout cruised through his 200m heat, barely escaping second gear as he qualified for Saturday’s final with ease.

At just 16, Gout already competes with the charisma and confidence of the sport’s best.

“It feels like this is where I’m meant to be,” Gout said.

“Running is pretty much my favourite thing to do. Just being out there versing everyone, versing faster people … pushing out the blocks and everything about the track.”

Earlier this year, Athletics Australia president Jane Flemming likened Gout to Usain Bolt — the highest compliment that could be afforded a young sprinter. Rather than be overawed by such a significant comparison, Gout is embracing it.

“It’s pretty cool because Usain Bolt is arguably the greatest athlete of all time and just being compared to him is a great feeling.

“Obviously I’m Gout Gout so I’m trying make a name for myself.

“If I can get to the level he was that would be a great achievement.”

Gout’s Olympic dreams are currently targeting LA in 2028 and Brisbane in 2032, but like the rest of the country his focus will be locked on Paris later this year, where he hopes to see Browning thrive.

“Rohan Browning, he really wants to go sub-10 so hopefully he can do it. The Olympics is a really cool thing so I’ll definitely be watching on the tele.”