Displaying scintillating form less than three weeks out from the world championships, Olympic silver medallist Sally McLellan has broken her own Australian 100m hurdles record in Monaco overnight.
Slicing three hundredths of a second from her previous record (12.53) set at the same meet last year, the 22-year-old blitzed the world-class field, stopping the clock in a new Australian and Oceania record time of 12.50 seconds (+0.7).
Well away from the gun as usual, McLellan had the best reaction time of the field. The gutsy Queenslander had a distinct lead by half way and never looked liked being beaten, holding on to her advantage through to the line.
Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada finished second in 12.54s, with in-form American Lolo Jones third in 12.61s.
Olympic champion Dawn Harper of the United States crossed the line in sixth place in 12.79s.
Two-time world champion Michelle Perry (USA) suffered an injury during warm up and did not take her place on the start line.
As it stands now, McLellan will be the fastest 100m hurdler to line up at the world championships in Berlin, with 2009 world-leader Jones (12.47) missing out on selection for the United States team.
Before she departed for Europe, McLellan said she wanted to break her own national record before the world championships and last night her predictions came true.
“I knew I had the Australian record in me,” said an excited McLellan after the race.
“(Breaking the record) shows that I’m on track. Everything is really going to plan.
“It has built my confidence so much. I’m excited but I’ve still got one more race (in Stockholm) to go.
“I wanted to take advantage of the race I was in with those girls, and I came out on top which was a big confidence booster.
“I knew the race was going to be tough. I knew the other girls were going to be racing fast and I wanted to stick with them.
“I got my good start like I always do and continued to run faster during the race. From hurdle three onwards I just felt so strong. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that strong in a race before.
“All the signs are looking good.”
McLellan’s coach Sharon Hannan was watching from the stands in Monaco and was extremely pleased with the performance of her young charge.
“In London she lost a bit of speed through her last three hurdles but tonight she was really good. She said herself she felt really strong through the end part of the race and that’s the first time she’s ever said that,” said Hannan.
So far this European season, McLellan has recorded five victories from six starts all against quality world-class opposition – Sotteville, Lausanne, Luzern, London and now Monaco.
McLellan will contest one more race in Stockholm this Friday night, bringing to a close what has been a sensational pre-world championships campaign on the tough European circuit.
In other Australian results from the Herculis meet in Monaco:
- Competing against a strong field, world university games champion Tristan Thomas placed seventh in the 400m hurdles clocking 49.26s. South Africa's LJ Van Zyl won in a world-leading time of 47.94 ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Bershawn Jackson (47.98) and Jamaican Danny McFarlane (48.13).
- Australian long jump dynamos Fabrice Lapierre and Mitchell Watt had a quiet night on the runway. Lapierre ran through on his first attempt and did not line up again. Watt had a best leap of 7.94m on his opening attempt, then 7.90m and 7.75m, before passing on the final three rounds to place sixth behind victor Godfrey Mokoena of South Africa with 8.28m (-0.3).
- Australian javelin champion Kim Mickle placed seventh with a best effort of 58.77m on her final throw. Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic took out the event with a best throw of 65.37m.
- Beijing Olympian Youcef Abdi pulled out from the 3000m steeplechase mid-race.
The 2009 IAAF World Championships will be held in Berlin from August 15 - 23.
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