Sport

Lauren Wells regains composure to win record eighth national title at Australian Athletics Championships

Canberra athlete Lauren Wells almost fell at the final hurdle, but recovered to win a record eighth national title to book her ticket for the world championships.

Wells (nee Boden) had to quickly adjust her step to clear the last obstacle before crossing the line in 56.41 seconds to extend her dominance in the women's 400m hurdles at the Australian Athletics Championships in Brisbane on Sunday.

The 26-year-old has now won the most national titles in the women's 400m hurdles in Australian history after previously sharing the record with 1988 Seoul Olympic Games gold medallist Debbie Flintoff-King.

The victory also gives Wells automatic qualification for the world titles in Beijing in August, having recorded the A-qualifying time in Melbourne the weekend before.

But the seemingly simple glide to the finish line suddenly flirted with the embarrassing when Wells lost her stride approaching the 10th and final hurdle.

"I was feeling so good, so I'm a little disappointed to not have quite executed my race plans, and it's the most notable when it's the last hurdle," Wells said.

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"There was a split second when I thought I was going down.

"I'm glad I managed to hold it together and somehow I got to that line."

It caps a challenging season for Wells, who squeezed inside the A-qualifying time for the world championships by 1/100th of a second.

"I've kind of made it hard for myself, but at the same time I know there's a lot more there," Wells said.

"I've managed to tick that box. I'm on the plane now [to the world championships] and I'm not even close to being at my best.

"With the goal in mind of making the final in Beijing, it's still five months away so there's still a long road ahead."

Wells' training partner, Melissa Breen, rounded out a triumphant weekend with a season-best time in the women's 200m final – less than 24 hours after winning the 100m on Saturday night.

Breen finished third in the 200m in 23.29 seconds behind defending champion Ella Nelson and Ashleigh Whittaker.

"It's the fastest I've run legally since 2013, so I'm really stoked to get a medal," Breen said.

"I really struggled to sleep last night, going off two hours' sleep, I was so wired and so happy.

"The main focus is to run fast 100's at the world titles this year and to get my national title back is awesome."

Breen ran 11.26 seconds in a 100m final that was without Sally Pearson, the Olympic 100m hurdles champion a late scratching because of injury.

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