Melbourne: Olympic champion Cathy Freeman says she is disappointed that there will be no 400m re-match with compatriot Jana Pittman at this week’s Australian athletics championships in Brisbane.
Manchester Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles champion Pittman ended Freeman’s five-year winning streak over her favoured distance with a commanding victory at the Sydney meet on March 22.
Freeman acknowledges it was the wake-up call she needed, with the Athens Olympics less than 18 months away.
“Let’s not take anything away from me just yet,” Freeman said on Monday. “It was an improvement on my previous race. I have been out of the sport for three years. I haven’t raced a world- class athlete since the 2000 Sydney Olympic final.
“You lose so much, you lose that psychological edge. You forget what it’s like physically. You forget what it takes.”
Freeman’s time of 51.81secs in Sydney was still the fastest since post-Olympic sabbatical, although well behind Pittman’s sizzling 50.43.
But Pittman’s coach Phil King is adamant that she will continue to focus on her main event — the 400m hurdles.
“It is a disappointment that she is not running the 400m in Brisbane,” Freeman said. “I absolutely understand how they have to be focussed and stay committed to their plans. They are not there to try to make Cathy Freeman run faster. They are obviously there to make Jana the best athlete she can be.