The Australian women’s 4 x 100m Gold Coast GOLD Relay team wrapped up its three-day camp at the weekend with a seamless performance at the Carlee Beattie Shield.
Brianna Beahan, Melissa Breen, Maddie Coates, Riley Day, Mia Gross, Sally Pearson and Ash Whittaker make up the team, with Gross sitting out of this camp due to injury and Jacinta Beecher filling in. It was just the second time the team had come together since September with the camp culminating in Australia Green racing Australia Gold at the QSAC event.
Australia Gold (Whittaker, Beahan, Pearson, Breen) ran a time of 44.07 to finish ahead of Australian Green (Beecher, Day, Coates, Taddeo) in 45.27 with the team’s focus on baton drills paying off with smooth transitions across the track. It was the fastest time set by an Australian team in four years.
“It was nice to get two relays around with the baton in hand safely,” said Sally Pearson. “Now that we’ve done that and we can prove that we can do it well, then it’s just a matter of how far we can take this without having the pressure on ourselves to get the baton around because we know we can do it now.”
Coach Jodi Lambert said that the performance was a great sign.
“The relay, while the flat speed is so important, the changes are crucial and having that trust in each other and getting to know each other is really, really important,” she emphasised. “It’s been a really good couple of days for that and they’ve come out and run well. They got the baton around, they’ve run the fastest they’ve run in a long time.”
Confidence was an undeniable theme for the team members post hit-out with Breen explaining further gains can be made in the lead up to Gold Coast 2018.
“We’ve obviously gone with quite a safe option for the first race and we can kind of experiment a little bit more and make those changes a little bit more risky to really get that speed through the change,” the Canberra-based athlete said. “For the next race we’ll have that confidence knowing we got the baton around the first one and we can really extend that and just keep running faster and faster.”
The question remains how far the team can push their risk. The IAAF has brought in a change to the takeover zone for the 4 x 100m and the 4 x 200m relays which see them extended from 20 metres to 30 metres. The team will meet up again at February’s Australian Athletics Championships and Nomination Trials at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast as well as a handful of times in March prior to the Commonwealth Games in April.
“Once the team’s named after February, and we’re in camp we’ll be able to do our speed sessions together so it won’t totally be known as relay training all the time, but you can incorporate your 60s that you do when you’re an incoming runner,” says Breen. “It’s just making sure that you’re constantly trying to improve your skills.
“At the end of the day you just want to have four fast girls and you do that by continuing what we’ve been doing.”
Proudly supported by Commonwealth Games Australia, membership to the Gold Coast GOLD Relay program ensures enhanced daily training environment and medical support for the nation’s best sprinters as they prepare to stake their claim for nomination to the Australian Commonwealth Games Team.