Jana makes a fresh start

JANA Rawlinson feels like she is starting her career all over again.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist left Australia last night for Europe where she will resume life on the professional track and field tour.

Since her triumph at the MCG in March last year, Rawlinson (nee Pittman) has gotten married and given birth to her first child, Cornelis, in December.

“It is very exciting,” she said. "It does feel like I am starting over again. I know I have got the same drive and I am really lucky in that my body hasn’t changed much since the pregnancy.

“I am still a similar weight and have similar strength but I just feel like I haven’t done it for a while, so it is kind of like a comeback in many respects.”

The 2003 world 400m hurdles champion will make her return in two weeks at the European club championships in Portugal where she will compete in the 400m hurdles and 400m for Greek club Panellinios AC.

While the Beijing Olympics remains her major goal she is hoping to be competitive at this year’s world championships in Osaka in August.

“Beijing next year is the only thing I am thinking about,” Rawlinson said. "The world champs is a great bonus and I do want to run well in Osaka because the track is so quick.

“I am hoping I will run reasonably fast but I am still saying top five at worlds would be fantastic.”

Given she only had her first session over the hurdles two weeks ago, Rawlinson, whose personal best of 53.22sec was set in winning the world title in Paris four years ago, will be happy to go under 56sec.

“I am in 80 per cent form at the moment,” she said. "I am a little bit shy of racing, that’s for sure.

“I could run well but I could be really held back by technique. I haven’t hurdled for a year and a bit and hurdling has never really been my strong point.”

The 24-year-old said her son, Cornelis, had already slipped into life as the baby of an elite athlete.

“We’ve been very lucky, he is an awesome kid,” she said.

Rawlinson and her husband Chris, the former British and Commonwealth hurdles champion, will base themselves in Loughborough, north of London, where his mother will be able to provide valuable childcare assistance.

While she continued training right through the pregnancy and walked 2km the day of the birth, Rawlinson admitted she was shocked by how much the labour took out of her.

“To jump straight back into full training is a lot harder than I anticipated it would be,” she said.

“My motivation is a lot higher than it used to be, my pain threshold is a lot higher than it used to be but my body just took time.”

Rawlinson has been in regular contact with England’s world marathon champion Paula Radcliffe who also gave birth to her first child last year.

“We’ve spoken quite a few times over the last few weeks and I think we both underestimated the actual labour,” she said.

“My hips obviously moved so much giving birth and they were so liquid afterwards which is why I got all these injuries.”

A combination of hamstring and foot injuries kept Rawlinson off the track for 10 weeks, which would usually drive the highly strung hurdler crazy but she is now a different person.

“Cor made it feel like the 10-week injury was only like two or three weeks,” she said.

“He definitely takes my mind off everything and it was a really nice bonding time for us.”

Rawlinson, who had been plagued by injuries since the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics, said the year away from the sport had saved her career.

“I think it has been good for me,” she said.

"I feel like I have only been an athlete for two or three years, rather than 10 or 15 which is the way I was starting to feel early last year.

“I was starting to think, ‘Oh God, I have had enough of this’, whereas now I am ready to run until London (2012 Olympics).”

im supprised she is even thinking about racing overseas so early!! If the birth was in Dec, and she has had 10wks off from then, that gives her maybe 2months of training.
Will she, pull out at 300m or, run around 60s?