Jana pays a special visit to encourage the next generation

Jana Rawlinson (nee Pittman) payed a special visit to Sydney Olympic Park this week to encourage the next generation of Australian athletes to follow their dreams.

The raucous All Schools crowd was delighted to meet the 2003 World 400m Hurdles Champion who was on hand to sign autographs, present medals and mingle with the talented young athletes.

Competing at the All Schools in Sydney back in 1999, Jana had a sensational meet, setting a new under-18 national junior record for the 400m (51.80) and 400m hurdles (56.23) – records that still stand today.

The 24-year-old has fond memories of her time competing at the Australian All Schools throughout her junior career.

“This is where it all begins, this is where dreams are made,” explained Rawlinson who was surrounded by excited junior athletes.

“I ran the 300m hurdles in my first All Schools when I was really young and that’s where coach Jackie Byrnes first approached me and asked me if I would be interested in training with Melinda Gainsford. I was so excited, she was one my idols at the time and still is.”

“I’ve ran quite a few qualifiers here and I think it’s the atmosphere more than anything else. I had a lot of fun running when I was younger. There was no pressure and you just ran for yourself and your family.”

Jana’s focus may have shifted slightly as she prepares for the birth of her first child any time now but the fire in her belly to compete still remains. The Commonwealth Games champion has her sights firmly set on competing at the World Championships in Osaka.

“There’s not a problem at all (in making the team for Osaka),” Rawlinson said. “I don’t see any problem at all in my return to the track whatsoever. It’s just a matter of how well I can do in the actual world championships themselves.”

"I’ve loved every minute of my pregnancy but sitting on the sidelines has made me really giddy to run again. It’s made me realise that my hunger is still there which I think is really important if you are going to contest at the world level.”

“We’ve got a rough European schedule set out for early next year in the lead up to Osaka. (My return) really depends on how the labour goes. If I have a caesarean it will change everything but I’d like to commence competing again at the end of the Australian athletics season.”

Jana and her husband/coach Chris Rawlinson had carefully planned the pregnancy around her busy athletics schedule.

“We wouldn’t have considered getting pregnant if we didn’t have a good Commonwealth Games campaign. I knew it was a low year and there were no major championships after the Commonwealth Games, I knew my body would recover quickly and I couldn’t wait to become a mum. Everything just fell in place.”

She won’t exactly be pulling on the spikes for the Telstra Zatopek Classic this Thursday night, but Jana is in sensational shape. Under strict guidelines from her doctor, Jana followed a strict training regime for 7 ½ months of her pregnancy which included wearing a heart rate monitor during all of her sessions.

“I’ve been really lucky training wise. I actually haven’t really noticed that I am pregnant when I’m training and I’ve really enjoyed being able to go out there and have a run when I want to.”

“My pregnant body is really good in terms of injury prevention. I’ve been injured quite a lot in the last couple of years and my pregnancy certainly has helped me with a lot of my injuries.”

“I’m really looking forward to being a family with Chris and the baby. (Having a baby) really does change your focus and all I care about is having a healthy baby child. The baby room is all prepared and I really can’t wait to meet the little person."

Jana is expected to be in the delivery room in just over a week and we wish her all the best.