McLellan will join six other Australian athletes, including two-time world champion Jana Rawlinson, who will jostle for their share of the US$ three million total prize purse at the ‘grand final’ of the 2007 World Athletics Tour, the elite international series which commenced in Melbourne in March.
Sarah Jamieson, Donna MacFarlane and Steve Hooker complete the line up of Female Australians in Stuttgart after collecting enough points during the 2007 World Athletics Tour. Discus thrower Dani Samuels qualified for the final but decided to remain in Sydney to concentrate on her University studies.
The women’s 100m hurdles event scheduled for this Saturday is set to be a cracker. After adding her second world championship title to her belt in Osaka, reigning World Athletics Final champion Michelle Perry appeared to be in the driver’s seat for Stuttgart. However, Swede Susanna Kallur has rained on Perry’s parade of late, taking out decisive victories in Zurich, Brussels and Berlin. Canadian world silver medallist Perdita Felicien and American Lolo Jones will also be in the hunt this Saturday.
Pipped for a place in the 100m hurdles final and reaching the semi-finals of the 100m at the recent world championships, McLellan has been in solid form of late, claiming the scalps of a number of Osaka 100m hurdles finalists in the final three Golden League meets in Europe.
Only 0.03 seconds off her personal best (12.71) in Berlin last weekend, McLellan, who turned 21 yesterday, feels she is capable of mixing it with the world’s best in her first IAAF World Athletics Final.
“My results over the last month give me an indication that I am competitive and I really deserve to be in the mix with these girls,” a determined and highly motivated McLellan told Athletics Australia Media from her base in London.
“I have learnt that I can be really competitive when I want to be. The others really don’t intimidate me because they are just there to run as fast as they can, just like me.
“After my race in Berlin, I feel that my body is ready to do another personal best, hopefully 12.6 something.”
One athlete who McLellan is endeavouring to follow in the footsteps of is two-time world 400m hurdles champion Jana Rawlinson.
The 24-year-old’s successful return from maternity leave has certainly hit the headlines. In her eleven competitions over the sticks this season, she’s only lost once, and in Osaka regained the world title she won in Paris four years ago.
Although her arch rival, Russian Yuliya Pechenkina, will be absent, Rawlinson will face strong opposition on Sunday from Poland’s Anna Jesien who ran a national record of 53.86 in the semi final on her way to winning the bronze medal in Osaka, Jamaican champion Melanie Walker and world leader Tiffany Williams who will be looking to bounce back after a period of poor form.
Rawlinson defeated that trio in a low-key outing at the Pedros Cup in Warsaw last night, running 54.55 seconds.
After reaching the golden heights of success in Osaka, by Rawlinson’s own admission, her preparation for the World Athletics Final hasn’t been ideal.
“This has been a fantastic season and Chris (husband and coach) and I got the business done when it counted.
“However we have missed a lot of training due to pregnancy and injuries this year and although I am not lacking any motivation post worlds, you cannot taper a tooth pick!
“I made the decision and would do so again to return to Australia (after the world championships) to see Cornelis, so a combination of no base work, extensive travel and amazing highs from worlds left me fighting to keep my fitness.
“My training has indicated a steep decline in form, however I will fight to the end and see where it gets me. “
Tasmanian 3000m steeplechase athlete Donna MacFarlane suffered horrendous blisters on the sole of her foot in Osaka after disaster struck 50 metres into her round one race, losing her shoe, and then gallantly completing two laps on the scorching track. One of the favourites leading into the world titles, the mother of two may not be in peak shape but has a point to prove in Stuttgart.
The IAAF Grand Prix Final began in 1985 as the culmination of the world athletics season. Since 2003, the event has been conducted as the IAAF World Athletics Final, with every event (aside from multi-events and walks) on the two-day schedule.
Schedule (German time)
Saturday, 22 September 2007
13:45 Men’s 3000m (Mottram)
14:20 Women’s 3000m steeplechase (MacFarlane)
14:40 Women’s 100m hurdles (McLellan)
15:00 Men’s 400m (Steffensen)
15:30 Women’s 1500m (Jamieson)
Sunday, 23 September 2006
13:40 Women’s 400m hurdles (Rawlinson)
13:50 Men’s pole vault (Hooker)
15:05 Men’s 5000m (Mottram TBC)
Place / Prize (all amounts are in US$)
A total prize purse of US$3,020,000 will be distributed at this weekend’s IAAF World Athletics Final (September 22 – 23, 2007) in Stuttgart, Germany. Any athletes surpassing a world record in the World Athletics Final will be awarded US$100,000.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com