Zika virus won't stop Melissa Breen's Olympic dream

Canberra sprint queen Melissa Breen will put her trust in Australian Olympic Games medical staff as she avoids the hype surrounding the Zika virus to focus on her build-up to Rio and clinching an A-qualifying time.

Melissa Breen is ramping up her Olympic preparation and won't be distracted by the Zika virus.
Melissa Breen is ramping up her Olympic preparation and won't be distracted by the Zika virus. Photo: Graham Tidy

Breen has started preparations for her second Olympics and is chasing the selection mark of 11.32 seconds for the 100 metres later this year.

However, much of the Olympic attention has centred around the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has prompted the United States Olympic Committee to tell athletes not to go to the Games if they are concerned for their health.

Breen, the fastest female over 100 metres in Australian sprinting history, had her travel injections two weeks ago to protect her from yellow fever, typhoid and tetanus as part of protocols for the Olympic team.

"I won't get caught up in the hype of it ... I'll listen to all the medical staff and what they say, you'll be in the hands of the Australian Olympic Committee and they'll have your best interests at heart," Breen said.


"I'm not anxious or stressed about it because right now it's out of my control. You've just got to listen to the advice.

"It's like the security issues for Dehli [at the 2010 Commonwealth Games], you just have to be smart and safe. Knowing you can't be immunised against the Zika virus is a little off putting. But it's still six months away.

"I remember in Dehli big trucks would come in every night and would bug spray the whole perimeter of the village. There are things happening all the time."

Breen's training partner Lauren Wells says she will consider not going to Rio if her participation puts the health of her future children at risk.

Health authorities suspect the Zika virus has caused a spike in microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head.

Canberra mountain biker Rebecca Henderson will consider shortening her time in Rio but was confident the virus would not stop her from competing.

A pregnant woman tested positive to the Zika virus in south-east Queensland on Tuesday after returning from a trip overseas.

Breen will race to secure her qualifying mark over the coming months, including a possible stint in Perth this weekend and at the Canberra Track Classic the following weekend.

The 25-year-old clocked in at 11.38 and 11.39 seconds at her runs at the ACT athletics championships last weekend.

Her Australian record of 11.11 seconds, set in Canberra two years ago, is well inside the qualifying mark required for Rio.

"I'm close to the [A-qualifying time], but I'm not there yet. I'm not really concerned with that, I'm more focused on running much faster than [11.32 seconds]," Breen said.

"Training is going great, I look forward to running fast soon and progressing over the next few months before seeing what the rest of the year has for me.

"I trust the process ... life isn't roses all the time. I've had an awesome period of training and technically things are going well. I've run faster than the [A-qualifying time] every year since I was 21, so I know I will be OK."

Athletics Australia cut Breen's funding last year and left her out of the National Athlete Support Structure for the lead-in to Rio.

But she said competing had reignited her passion for running as she aims at another Olympic berth.

"I'm confident in what [coach Matt Beckenham] and I have done and I'm just excited to run again. I haven't had that feeling for 12 months," Breen said.

"I'm choosing the people I want around me and what I'm doing. I'm training at the University of Canberra a lot now ... I've got people around me who want to be there. It all comes down to choice for me, I've chosen this path and it's awesome."