Melissa Breen and Sally Pearson will go head-to-head in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images
After 20 years as the fastest woman in Australian history, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor has thrown down the challenge to Sally Pearson and Melissa Breen to push each other to set a new 100m benchmark.
The individual match-up between London Olympic Games gold medallist Pearson and Canberra star Breen has added glamour to the ACT championships on Sunday.
Usually a low-key event, the expectation of quick times on the new surface at the AIS athletics track has attracted a quality field as athletes chase qualifying standards for the Commonwealth Games.
The most recent meeting was two years ago as Pearson, who has a personal best of 11.14 set in 2007, concentrates more on her pet event, the 100-metre hurdles. Both are in pursuit of the elusive time of 11.12 seconds set by Gainsford-Taylor in 1994.
Gainsford-Taylor believes Pearson and Breen can build a healthy rivalry and use their competition to their advantage.
''If we can get her and Sally running against each other as much as possible, that is going to bring the best out of them and bring both of their times down,'' she said.
''Both Mel and Sally have the ability to break the national record and it's time for it to be broken.
''If it does get broken, that means our sprinters are moving in the right direction.''
Breen is in red-hot form after clocking an A-qualifying time of 11.32 seconds in a club meeting on a wet track on January 24.
It was just 0.07 seconds outside her personal best of 11.25 set last year, putting her in prime position to beat Pearson in her 30th attempt.
This will be Pearson's first competition for the season as she begins preparations to defend her 60-metre hurdles title at the World Indoor Championships in Poland next month.
Breen was still in high school and only 17 in 2007 when she first raced Pearson, who is four years her senior.
She admitted to initially being intimidated and nervous about the prospect of facing Australia's premier female sprinter.
But since they last met in 2012, Breen has become an Olympian, run in the world championships and continually lowered her personal best times in both the 100 metres and 200 metres.
''It was daunting to race her and there's still that ultimate respect for her as an athlete and a person,'' Breen said. ''The experience I've had in the last two years will help me tomorrow.
''Having a 0-29 record isn't great for the confidence, but if I put a great race together I know I can be close.''
The pair have developed a friendship and Breen was on hand to help Pearson celebrate her gold medal in the 100-metre hurdles in London in 2012.
Breen has run an A-qualifying time and put herself in the frame for the Commonwealth Games despite missing out on funding through Athletics Australia. It was deemed she wasn't a realistic chance of finishing in the top eight at a major championships in the next four years.
Breen has continued to train with coach Matt Beckenham and hopes the decision is overturned after the national championships in April.
''The only thing I can do is run fast, make the Commonwealth Games team and see what unfolds,'' Breen said.
''To prove people wrong is a great motivator, but it's also about proving your family, coaches and support team right for putting so much time into you.
''I'm in the best shape of my career and hopefully both myself and Sally can run A-qualifying times tomorrow.''
The heats of the women's 100-metres are at 10.40am, with the final at 12.27pm.