Canberra's Melissa Breen the fastest woman in Australia

Canberra's Melissa Breen the fastest woman in Australia

It was the culmination of a life-long dream - Canberra sprinter Melissa Breen becoming the fastest woman in Australian history.

The newly-crowned queen of the track left mouths gaping wide and rewrote the record books with a stunning run to break Melinda Gainsford-Taylor's 20-year record at the ACT Championships on Sunday.

The crowd at the AIS Athletics Track roared in approval as the time of 11.11 seconds flashed up on the screen after Breen zoomed past the finish line in her heat.

It was one one-hundredth of a second quicker than Gainsford-Taylor's elusive mark set in 1994 and smashed Breen's previous personal best of 11.25 seconds set last year.


''I didn't see the time because I ran straight through, but I could hear the crowd going crazy,'' Breen said.

''It was very emotional and the tears show how much sacrifice and dedication it took to get that.

''I'm the fastest Australian ever: that's just insane.''

To cap off a sensational day, Breen backed up a couple of hours later to win the final in a time of 11.15 seconds in front of superstar Sally Pearson (11.27 seconds).

Breen was mobbed by aspiring youngsters after her victory and signed countless autographs for her new legion of fans.

It was the first time Breen had beaten the London Olympic Games 100m hurdles gold medallist in their 30 meetings.

Breen's parents Bev and Mike were on hand to see their daughter complete the ultimate transformation from the seven-year-old who started at the Little Athletics at Tuggeranong to 16 years later becoming the fastest in the country.

''There was tears, there was goosebumps, I didn't realise what she

had done straight away,'' Bev Breen said. ''She's dedicated her life to athletics. All the hard work is paying off. It's pretty special.''

Breen has had to overcome the disappointment of having her Athletics Australia funding cut last year.

She still trains at the AIS with coach Matt Beckenham and has her eyes set on making the final at this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Breen and Beckenham changed her entire running technique after the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and are aiming at cracking the 11-second barrier.

''We've had some great support from the Canberra community after the decision from Athletics Australia and that's created the positive environment around her,'' Beckenham said. ''It's been a long process since the Commonwealth Games and we broke down her technique and we've been working on the psychology of it as well.


''We're the first to admit she hasn't run the fastest in major championships and had a 0-29 record against Pearson.

''She's still developing how to race and will only get better.''

Lee Gaskin is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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