By Danika Dent
TWO South Gippsland athletes will represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland in 36 days.
High jumper Eleanor Patterson from Leongatha will fly out after a number of events in Queensland, while distance runner Kaila Hutchinson (nee McKnight) flew out on Sunday for a German training camp.
Patterson was assured of her place on the Australian team with a Commonwealth Games qualifying jump of 1.92m at the Australian Athletics Championships in April.
Hutchinson, formerly of Leongatha, was only told of her selection on June 4 after posting B Qualifying times in the 1500m and a personal best in the 800m.
The Commonwealth Games will be Hutchinson’s chance to put an injury marred and disruptive 2013 behind her.
Hutchinson admitted she hasn’t had an ideal lead-up to the Commonwealth Games, compared to the Olympics, where she competed in London in 2012.
She ran a B Qualifier at the Hunter Classic at 4:09.87 and another B Qualifier in mid-May in China.
“I’m running faster this year than I was four years ago,” Hutchinson said.
“I had a PB in the 800 metres, at 2:03, which is a one second improvement.
“I’ve had a nice, steady progression this year.”
However, Hutchinson will only run the 1500m at Glasgow.
“Of course, it’s disappointing not to get an A Qualifier in the Australian season, but I think I’m running well.
“I had some difficulty after the Olympics with some hip pain, I changed coaches and moved to Melbourne and that took me longer to get settled, which was frustrating.”
Hutchinson is being trained by former Hawthorn high performance coach Andrew Russell, and has recently returned to Melbourne after an intensive high altitude training camp at Falls Creek.
“My program hasn’t changed hugely since shifting from Nic [Bideau, former coach],” Hutchinson said, “it’s more about a new approach.
“My focus recently has been on speed.
“The Olympic heats were slow and tactical, but there are only two rounds of heats and then the finals for the Commonwealth Games so speed is a greater factor.
“The big championship races traditionally come down to a large sprint.
“My [800m] PB wasn’t super-fast, but it’s moving in the right direction.
“I’ve got two more races in July before the Commonwealth Games so that should be a good lead up.”
Hutchinson flew out from Melbourne on Sunday for the Australian athletics training camp.
She said excitement was definitely building, and she’s proud to be representing South Gippsland with Patterson.
“To have two from Leongatha in the one team is a great achievement,” she said.
“I’m really excited to see how Eleanor goes.
“I haven’t looked at the schedule, but I really hope we’re not competing at the same time.
“I’d like to be part of her cheer squad with her coach and family.”