Breen has 'tools' to make it in top grade
Melissa Breen has the ability to become a great 200-metre runner according to Australian great Melinda Gainsford-Taylor Photo: Colleen Petch
Australian sprint queen Melinda Gainsford-Taylor sees no reason why Melissa Breen can't follow her lead and be a world-class 200 metres runner.
Breen will contest the 100m at the London Olympic Games, but the Canberra speedster also narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 200m.
The 21-year-old surprised even herself in clocking an impressive 23.30 seconds in winning the 200m at this year's national championships.
Gainsford-Taylor, a triple Olympian who will commentate on the London Games as part of the Channel Nine/Foxtel team, believed Breen possessed the raw tools necessary to make the step up in distance.
''What I would like Mel to do more next season is more 200s because she can do very well in that event,'' Gainsford-Taylor said.
''Her time at nationals was reasonably close to the Olympic qualifier, and she had hardly done any. I think it would really suit her.''
Breen has enjoyed a sensational past 12 months, putting the pain of a disappointing 2010 Commonwealth Games behind her to become a more determined and well-rounded sprinter.
Her best time for the 100m of 11.30sec was two one-thousandths of a second shy of the A-qualifying mark. Selectors granted her a berth given her potential of becoming a finalist at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Breen's rapid improvement underlines her status as this country's most exciting female sprinter since Gainsford-Taylor.
A three-time Olympian from 1992-2000, Gainsford-Taylor rounded off her splendid career with a sixth-placed finish in the final of the women's 200m in Sydney.
Gainsford-Taylor's national records in the 100m (11.12sec) and 200m (22.23sec) have stood for 18 and 15 years respectively.
Breen's times in both events put her in the top 10 Australians of all time.
''To make the final she would have to be running 11.1, so I think she can definitely make the top 16,'' Gainsford-Taylor said.
''She'll really grow and development from the experience.
''Hopefully after this she will go on to bigger and better things.''
Gainsford-Taylor is just as excited about the prospects of Breen's training partners, Lauren Boden and Brendan Cole.
The women's and men's 400m hurdlers are outside shots of making the finals in their respective events.
Boden has improved in leaps and bounds since running a disappointing seventh in the semi-final of last year's world championships.
Her time of 56.68 seconds was nearly a second and a half outside her personal best, a mark she was about on par with this year in booking her spot on the team.
Boden has also had to deal with endless comparisons to 2007 world champion Jana Pittman, who failed in her bid to qualify for the London Games.
''Lauren is completely her own athlete now, you just need to look at her development,'' Gainsford-Taylor said. ''She was in awesome form earlier in the year. She's had the experience where she hasn't made the team and she's had to work hard to get that qualifier.''