Francois Etoundi (weightlifting), Melissa Breen (athletics) and Renae Hallinan (netball) during the unveiling of the Australian Commonwealth Games uniform on Monday. Photo: Getty Images
A month out from the Commonwealth Games, Melissa Breen is running faster, stronger and better than she did before she broke the national 100-metre record earlier this year.
Australia’s fastest ever woman believes she is poised to break her own national record and challenge the best women in the world for a place in the sprint final in Glasgow.
After she bagged the record with a time of 11.11 seconds at the ACT Championships in February, Breen and her coach Matt Beckenham set about replicating that 12-week pre-record training bloc for the Commonwealth Games.
''The speed has dramatically increased,'' Breen said on Monday. ''I had a really awesome session last week. Friday was the fastest I have run in a long time, and it was freezing in Canberra.
''I have not been this fit before, my speed-endurance hasn’t been this good before, it’s a matter of shifting that now to the speed. The session I did on Friday, Matty stopped the last two reps because he was like, 'that’s enough Mel'.
''It makes me feel I am in that shape [of the record time], or quicker. It’s really exciting to have those sessions, those little breakthrough sessions where something clicked again, because it was lost a little bit domestically because we decided to not train as hard and to give my body time to enjoy what was going on.
"I don’t regret taking it a little bit easy because my life changed and you need to appreciate that.''
The record brought with it attention and demands that she chose to embrace and eased off briefly in training. She resumed training soon after and did well in Japan, running 11.22 into a wind and 11.28, giving her confidence that with work, those times are becoming her par.
She now feels running fast is not something she has to force herself to do on the track, the volume of work means relaxing into her rhythm delivers her the pace.
This is new ground for Breen. Not only has she never been in this sort of shape before a major championship, she has also never previously had an unrestricted lead-in to a major event.
Last year she was ill before the Moscow World Championships and it was an achievement just to get to the blocks. Similarly, before the London Olympics she was racing all over the world to the last minute to qualify to get on the team. Her race was run in getting to the Games.
''At that time it was such an achievement to get there, this is the first time of doing what we want to do and not doing what we have to do,'' she said.
''It’s really the first year we have been able to stick to the plan. Sometimes I get nervous that I am not doing the right things yet, but this is the first time we are doing the right things.
"We are not running around chasing a time, getting a village entry and causing a lot of stress. This is the first time we have been able to do what we want to do without doing those extra things.''
This might be a games of the best athletes in the Commonwealth, but bar the Americans, the Commonwealth - with the Caribbean nations represented - hosts most of the fastest women in the world.
Michelle-Lee Ahye tops the 2014 rankings with her 10.85s last weekend at the Trinidad and Tobago national titles.
The Jamaican team will be named next week and is likely to include multiple world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Five Jamaicans have already run quicker than Breen this year, although only three can contest the 100m at the Commonwealth Games.
"You may have to run in the 11.0s to even make the final," Breen said.
"You don't know what it might be like, or if the weather is horrendous you hope you are standing strong and all the Caribbean nations are struggling. I don't mind if it's really bad weather."