Sport

Canberra athletes Lauren Wells and Melissa Breen helping to bridge gap between senior and junior athletics

Lauren Wells runs the first seniors 4x400m relay event held at the AIS Athletics track during the Little Athletics event ...
Lauren Wells runs the first seniors 4x400m relay event held at the AIS Athletics track during the Little Athletics event on Sunday. Photo: Jay Cronan

 National 400 metre hurdles champion Lauren Wells and the fastest woman in Australian history, Melissa Breen, have a joint mission - to help bridge the gap between the senior and junior ranks in athletics.

The Canberra duo showed the next generation of athletics stars what it takes to reach the top when they competed at the Little Athletics relay carnival at the AIS Athletics Track on Sunday.

It's the first time senior races have been held at a Little Athletics event in the ACT as part of the growing integration between the two separate entities.

Wells is aiming to break the 55-second barrier in the 400 metre hurdles next year on her way to a spot in the final at the world championships in Beijing.

Breen also has her sights set high after this year eclipsing Melinda Gainsford-Taylor's  Australian record for the women's 100 metres which stood since 1994.

Wells started with the Corroboree Little Athletics club when she was five years old, competing for a decade before moving on to the seniors.

"I think it's been a great opportunity between Athletics ACT and Little Athletics in the ACT to help bridge that gap," Wells said.

"Younger athletes probably see older athletes like Melissa and I who they often see on TV and they can actually talk to us.

"Like any sport, there is always a bit of a drop-out rate between juniors and seniors.

"Regardless of what's happening nation-wide, it's really fantastic that ACT has collaborated on something like this."

Wells has been back in training for the past six weeks, focusing on fitness and strength work and an emphasis on increasing her flat speed and sprinting.

She is excited about the Canberra Track Classic on February 7 next year after it was reinstated to the Australian Athletics Tour for the first time since 2010.

"I've been lobbying to get a meet back here for so long," Wells said.

"I was even willing to volunteer rather than race if that's what it took because I know how fantastic our track is here.

"It's fast and the conditions here are generally really good for all the events."

Wells has set herself the target of breaking her personal best of 55.08 seconds set in July last year.

"I would absolutely love to run a PB in the 400 hurdles, that would be the absolute ultimate goal for the season," Wells said.

"It's 55.08 at the moment, so I would love to be under 55. 

"I know if I can do that and at the right time, I'll be in good shape for the world championships."