In her most serious encounter since returning to competition after giving birth to son Cornelus last December, Jana Rawlinson (nee Pittman) has defeated a star-studded line up which included four of the six fastest women in the world this year, to take victory at the IAAF World Athletics Tour meeting in Athens overnight.
Rawlinson (54.25) scored a stunning victory against high quality international fields.
800m runner Tamsyn Lewis also broke two minutes for the first time this year, to put her hand up for selection in the Osaka World Championships team.
Despite a significant pause at the final barrier, Rawlinson’s victorious time of 54.25 is the fifth fastest in the world this year. Tiffany Ross-Williams (USA), the fastest women in the world in 2007, finished second (54.38), with 2006 European Cup champion Yevgeniya Isakova from Russia third (54.58). Olympic champion Fania Halkia of Greece was a late withdrawal after injuring her back during the warm-up – denying Rawlinson a rematch of the Olympic final at the same venue three years ago.
“I was more pleased with the way the race was won than my time,” explained the 24-year-old after her race.
“The last hurdle was a mess. I stopped which cost me half a second. Elite hurdlers shouldn’t do that and it was a bad decision. I’ve got to iron it out to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Having not raced at an elite international competition since the Commonwealth Games last year, Rawlinson was slightly nervous prior to the race.
“I actually looked down at the start list and got a little bit nervous. I thought oh my god, my season’s best has never been last on the list before.”
“Tonight was a step in the right direction but it’s not time to have a party yet.”
“Over the next few weeks I’ll continue to work on my speed and rhythm, however the key is to get to Osaka injury free. I need to make it to the start line.”
Rawlinson will next grace the track this Friday night at the lucrative Paris Golden League meet where she will once again greet a high-class field – including world champion and world record holder Yulia Nosova of Russia.
Eleven-time national champion Tamsyn Lewis gave Australian team selectors something to think about with an impressive victory in the 800m. Finishing fifth, her world championships A-qualifying time of 1:59.45 was impressive – the 13th fastest in the world this year and her fastest time since 2003.
Russia’s Svetlana Cherkasova was the two-lap victor in 1:59.03.
Meanwhile 2007 national 1500m champion Lisa Corrigan was extremely unlucky in her first major international meet in Europe. The 22-year-old was tripped by Canadian Carmen Douma-Hussar with only 500 metres to go and she did not finish the race.
For further results please visit the IAAF website www.iaaf.org.
The international athletics action continues in Zagreb on Wednesday night and is expected to feature John Steffensen and Patrick Johnson. Alana Boyd, Clinton Hill, Tim Parravicini and Robbie Crowther will line up in Salamanca on the same night.
Friday’s nights IAAF Golden League meet in Paris will showcase Australia’s girl power – with Rawlinson, Kym Howe, Sarah Jamieson, Lisa Corrigan and Alana Boyd all in action.
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photos Janos Schmidt