Un­sung Aus­tralian hur­dler McLen­nan eye­ing more than sil­ver

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

BERLIN: Aus­tralian Sally McLel­lan is aim­ing to prove her Olympic sil­ver medal from the 100m hur­dles in Bei­jing was no fluke when the world ath­let­ics cham­pi­onships be­gin here this week­end.

Last Au­gust, the 22-year-old won the sil­ver medal be­hind Dawn Harper of the USA af­ter just hold­ing off Canada’s Priscilla Lopes-Sch­liep in a photo-fin­ish in one of the big­gest sur­prises on the Bei­jing track.

Her suc­cess cap­tured the imagination of the sports-mad Aus­tralian pub­lic and she is now looking to un­der­line her cur­rent form by step­ping up to the medals podium at Berlin’s Olympic Sta­dium.

Af­ter US hur­dler Lolo Jones, who ran 12.47secs ear­lier this sea­son, failed to win a place at the US tri­als, McLel­lan comes here as the next fastest over the hur­dles hav­ing clocked 12.50secs.

Al­though re­laxed, McLel­lan is ex­cited and ready to race.

“When the world champs come around, you put your head down and get ready to race, I am looking for­ward to it and do­ing what we came here to do,” she said. “It’s ex­cit­ing, you can’t af­ford to put a foot wrong and I find it a great chal­lenge.

“It doesn’t feel any dif­fer­ent than Bei­jing, I am go­ing in with the feel­ing I can do some­thing ex­cit­ing, but that doesn’t scare me.

“My aim is to get to the fi­nal and any­thing can hap­pen there. I just want to take ev­ery­thing I can out of it and not leav­ing any­thing else in the tank.

“Get­ting a medal would be fan­tas­tic, no mat­ter what colour it is.”

With Jones ab­sent, McLel­lan is un­con­cerned about who she will run against and is fo­cused on do­ing her job.

“It doesn’t re­ally make any dif­fer- ence to me whether she (Jones) is here or not, I don’t have time to worry about other ath­letes too much.

“I don’t feel the pres­sure, I come here and try to en­joy my­self more than any­thing. I just want to go for it. I am not afraid of any other ath­letes, you have to fo­cus solely on your­self.

“A few sec­onds can make a huge dif­fer­ence, you could hit a hur­dle and go from first to sev­enth in a flash, you can’t af­ford to lose con­cen­tra­tion for a sec­ond.”

McLel­lan ad­mits be­ing so far from home does have it’s prob­lems.

“I have been in Europe since July 1, I only speak to my fam­ily once or twice a week, which can be tough,” she ad­mit­ted. “But this is what we are paid for, this is our job. I am lucky enough that my mum and fi­ance have come over to be with me and that helps.”

Bizarrely, the of­fi­cial world champi- on­ship pro­gramme does not even men­tion McLel­lan amongst the favourites for the 100m hur­dles, de­spite her fast time, but the Aus­tralian was tak­ing the news in her con­sid­er­able stride.

“You can’t af­ford to worry about what other peo­ple think of you, you just have to go out and do the best you can,”she said. “”I am not in it for the recog­ni­tion any­way.”

With the eyes of her coun­try on her, McLel­lan said she turned to com­pa­triot Cathy Free­man, who won 400m gold at the 2000 Syd­ney Olympics, for ad­vice on how to deal with nerves.

She said: “I asked her about how she coped and she ad­mit­ted she of­ten had to go to the toi­let ev­ery time she thought about racing at the ma­jor champs. She just said take a few deep breaths and make your­self re­lax and en­joy the oc­ca­sion. I think that’s the best ad­vice I can take.” – Sapa-AFP

MEDAL HUNT­ING: Sally McLel­lan… the pride of Aus­tralia.

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