Coach Matthew Beckenham says beating Sally Pearson an important step for Melissa Breen

Breen Pearson was an ultra-consistent performer and a close result with a quick Pearson would also be a good result. Photo: Rohan ThomsonCoach Matthew Beckenham says Canberra sprint queen Melissa Breen has the perfect chance to start silencing doubts she can compete against the world’s best when she takes on Australian golden girl Sally Pearson on Saturday.
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While Breen and Pearson have played down the importance of the showdown that pits the Australian women’s 100-metre record holder against the national 100m champion at the AIS Track – with the importance switched to the world championships in Beijing in August – Beckenham still sees it as an important race for Breen.

About a year ago she shocked the Australian athletics world when she scorched down the AIS track to break Melinda Gainsford-Taylor’s 20-year-old national record in 11.11 seconds.

It was on the same day Breen beat Pearson for the first and only time in their careers. While that run proved Breen was fast, Beckenham said there were still doubts about whether she could run quickly at a major meet – or against Sally Pearson.

He felt his charge was closing the gap on the Olympic champion hurdler, and every time Breen ran against Pearson it was a chance to remove the question marks.

“As we’ve learnt with Mel, she can run well in Canberra, but the jury that decide whether or not she’s a successful athlete judge it on how she runs at the majors,” Beckenham said. “This is a real opportunity on her home track … let’s run a good race against Sally.

“Let’s see if you can execute what we’ve been practising for the last 12 weeks on your own. The easiest way to assess it is she beats Sally.”

He said Breen was an ultra-consistent performer and a close result would also be a good result.

Breen is still in a heavy training mode and won’t be at her fastest on Saturday, with an eye on peaking in Beijing.

She reiterated her desire to simply run as fast as she can, with the goal of breaking the 11-second barrier.

It is the combination of Breen’s national record and Pearson’s glittering resume – an Olympic Games gold medal, a world championship crown and two Commonwealth Games golds in her beloved 100m hurdles – that has generated so much interest in this meet.

But Breen tempered expectations the national record would again be lowered on the super-quick Canberra track. “I appreciate, on face value, that’s great but it took 20 years for someone to do it, it’s not a thing that was easy to do,” she said.

“Obviously you’d always want to see an Aussie record … but for us right now, the top athletes … their main goal is to run their best times at world championships where you can make finals and get on the podium.”

Breen said there was added pressure running against Pearson, someone she has always looked up to.

“She’s probably one of the best starters in the world and in 100m that’s pretty critical and it obviously brings a lot more hype to [the race],” she said.

“So it makes you nervous, but it also makes you excited because you know it is going to be a fast race because she always turns up and she’s always in good shape.

“You always know you’re going to have a battle on your hands and that’s something you want to thrive on.”

Beckenham said another Canberran, 400m hurdler Lauren Wells, was in good shape and would be looking to run a world qualifying time of 56.2s on Saturday.

“Loz will run well tomorrow, I’d like her to get a qualifier,” he said.

“She’s got this week, she’s [got] Perth and the ACT champs three weeks in a row, which are normally good conditions.”

CANBERRA TRACK CLASSIC

Saturday: At the AIS Track, from 3.30pm.

Tickets $10, under-18s free.

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Alex Rowe aiming for world champs qualifier at Canberra Track Classic

Time is of the essence for Australian 800-metre record holder Alex Rowe, and the medical student has vowed to back Canberra to host the national championships if he runs a fast time at the AIS Track on Saturday.
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Rowe holds the record along with Ralph Doubell, who set the mark of one minute 44.4 seconds at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, and the 22-year-old wants to hit the ground running at the Canberra Track Classic on Saturday to book his place to the world championships in Beijing in August.

With his medical studies set to ramp up a notch in 2015, Rowe will have limited time to travel and compete abroad, making the Australian domestic season of the utmost importance to qualify for the worlds.

“Getting the qualifier here in Australia is a bit more important than it has been in previous years, which makes Canberra just another opportunity to try and get that qualifier,” Rowe said.

“I’d like to hit the ground running in Canberra because it’s an amazing track … but with subsequent runs you do improve. I like to start the season at a high level and then improve.”

But he also has an eye on regaining the national title he lost to Josh Ralph last year.

He won the title in 2013 and missed the feeling of being on top of the podium when he finished second to Ralph.

Like many athletes, Rowe loves running in Canberra due to the typically fast conditions and said he’d love for the Canberra Track Classic to become a permanent fixture on the Athletics Australia calendar.

Not just for himself, but also to gain publicity for the sport – records create interest.

But the Australian Sports Commission is currently reviewing AA, which is expected to be completed at the end of February or early March.

It will decide the organisation’s structure going forward and they can’t commit to continuing the CTC until they know the review’s outcome.

But Rowe said he’d back it to even host the nationals – if he runs a good time on Saturday.

“It wouldn’t be a bad atmosphere and the size of the venue is also fantastic because it’s not a massive, massive venue that dwarfs [everything],” he said.

“I’ll run here tomorrow night [Satruday] and I’ll give you more details about whether nationals should be here – if I run fast then you’ll know what the answer will be.”

CANBERRA TRACK CLASSIC

Saturday: At the AIS Track, from 3.30pm.

Tickets $10, under-18 free.

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Commonwealth gold medallist Michael Shelley to contest world cross-country titles

Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist Michael Shelley will contest the Australian cross-country championships at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday. Photo: Andrej IsakovicIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mantra Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michael Shelley is following with his decade-long long-distance partnership with renowned Canberra coach Dick Telford.
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Shelley will catch up with Telford when he competes in the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships selection trial at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday.

Shelley will bypass the world titles in China in March, electing instead to direct his energy towards preparing for the London marathon on April 26.

The 31-year-old became just the fourth Australian to win the men’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games with victory at Glasgow last year in a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes,15 seconds.

Shelley has trained on the Gold Coast since 2005, working with Telford via correspondence. He transmits a detailed heart-rate graph of all of his training sessions to Telford from a GPS watch.

“We talk once or twice a week and I send him my training through the internet with the heart-rate graph, so I can’t slacken off and he knows what’s going on,” Shelley said.

“I can’t rehash old heart-rate graphs either because he’s on to it, not that I’ve tried it. He knows I train hard and I know he expects me to train hard, we just know what’s each other is doing. It’s been working out well since I moved back here in 2005, so why go changing it.”

Telford is one of Australia’s most revered distance-running coaches, having mentored the likes of Lisa Martin (nee Ondieki), Andrew Lloyd, Kate Anderson and Susan Hobson. He was the first sports scientist employed by the Australian Institute of Sport and was last year inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Shelley does the majority of his training individually and has encountered dangerous customers during his runs through the Gold Coast hinterland.

“I have to focus on some of the trails I run anyhow because there’s snakes and that sort of thing, so it keeps you on your toes,” Shelley said. “Training by myself doesn’t really worry me, but occasionally it would be nice to have another person with me so they could keep any eye out.

“I used to see [snakes] quite regularly, but this summer I haven’t seen any, so it’s been a good summer.”

The 12-kilometre cross-country event is at the perfect time and distance for Shelley ahead of the London marathon.

Shelley placed 65th at the world cross-country championships in 2007 and completed his first marathon in 2010, finishing 12th at the Rotterdam marathon.

He won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and 16th at the 2012 London Olympic Games, but says it’s difficult to put expectations on how he might fare at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“The marathon is a different beast,” he said. “Hopefully you wake up fantastic on the day and you’re training will pay off.”

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ICC’s anti-corruption boss likens grooming tactics of cricket corrupters to paedophiles

The head of world cricket’s anti-corruption and security unit Sir Ronnie Flanagan has likened criminals who lure cricketers into illegal activity to  paedophiles grooming their victims.
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Just over a week before the  World Cup begins, the ICC has outlined security measures that  it believes will ensure the tournament is free from corruption and the threat of corruption.

The ICC has handed a “watch list” – featuring the names of 100 corrupters – to law enforcement agencies in Australia and New Zealand who are banned from entering the World Cup venues. Players and officials from the 14 competing nations will be shown videos this weekend reminding them of their obligations to report suspicious corruption-related behaviour.

Flanagan, a retired senior British police officer, said the ICC had seen a “100 per cent increase” in reports by players, many of whom  are innocent, in the past three years. The video includes a message from Flanagan, other international players and at least one disgraced player, who urges today’s stars not to make the same mistake he did. The disgraced player is not former Pakistan seamer and spot-fixer Mohammad Amir, who  last week was cleared by the ICC to return to domestic cricket.

Flanagan has told players they have the trust of the ICC’s ACSU but warns them of “rotten” criminal elements who “do all in their power to get at players” and officials.

“They’ll trick them, coerce them, try and attract them, they’re almost like paedophiles in how they attempt to groom people into ultimately doing what suits their nefarious intentions in terms of illegal betting and other elements of criminality,” Flanagan said.

“I’m certain the players, match officials and support staff will be working very carefully in support of what we do and we’ll work in partnership to ensure  [criminals] never get their way in this tournament.”

The ICC signed in August 2013 a memorandum of understanding with Australian Federal Police in their fight against corruption at the World Cup.

Fraud detection providers Sportradar have been hired to monitor betting on regulated markets. Analysts will  trawl through social media looking for  approaches  to players.

Security staff  have also been briefed to watch out for “pitchsiders”, the term given to fans who attend matches live and capitalise on the TV delay to either bet or pass on information to bookmakers.

Although pitchsiders do not influence results, the ICC believe it is a threat to the integrity of the game as “it feeds into wider and more sophisticated network of illegal betting”, Flanagan said.

“That’s where there is a risk of it being a minor contagion.”

Pitchsiding is not illegal but Flanagan said pitchsiders can be ejected and banned from World Cup venues for breaching the terms and conditions of entry, which is what happened to a British national during this summer’s Big Bash League.

Fairfax Media has been told pitchsiders apprehended by security staff are often tight-lipped, but the ICC has gleaned enough information to believe their interventions have disrupted the business of illegal bookmakers and gambling syndicates.

“The disruption we bring about from that multiplies. The people whom they will be talking to will be talking to other people,” Flanagan said.

“We’ve had instances after the removal of one person where we know the messages are coming: “Where has he gone? What has happened to the commentary?”.

Flanagan said the intelligence gathered by cricket’s anti-corruption fighters would be shared among other sports.

“I’m certain these bad guys don’t put themselves in pigeonholes and say I only deal with cricket, tennis or snooker,” Flanagan said.

“The same people will be seeking to be in operation wherever they can make money. It’s important all sports keep in close contact with each other.’

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Injury-time own goal sinks plucky Jets

HIGH POINT: Jets substitute Radovan Pavicevic scores his first A-League goal. Picture: Getty ImagesTHE new-look Newcastle Jets gave up a goal in injury time to suffer a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar in front of 6944 fans at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
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Teenage substitute Radovan Pavicevic looked to have earned Newcastle a deserved draw when he scored his maiden A-League goal in the 72nd minute.

But with moments remaining, substitute Allan Welsh, who had been on the field for 14 seconds, stuck out his right boot to clear a low free kick from Thomas Broich only to deflect it into his own net.

The rookie defender had just replaced Scott Neville, who had given the free kick away.

The Jets showed plenty of fight after two weeks of turmoil at the club which included the sacking of five of their teammates and three of their coaching staff.

Striker Jean Carlos Solorzano put the visitors ahead in the 35th minute when he was left unmarked at a corner and flicked the ball home from inside the six-yard box.

Plucked from the youth team, Pavicevic equalised when he collected a misdirected back pass from Corey Brown, rounded goalkeeper Michael Theo and kept his cool when the ball bobbled up from Brown’s late challenge to volley it deftly between two defenders.

Radovan Pavicevic scoring a goal for Newcastle. Picture: Dean Osland

In the end, it was not the win the Jets craved, but it was a vast improvement on the insipid performance in the 7-0 surrender to Adelaide two weeks earlier.

Content to sit back for much of the contest, the Jets finished the stronger and could have snatched all three points.

Daniel Mullen hit the crossbar with a header and the Roar had to defend desperately at the death to hang on before snatching the winner against the run of play.

Taylor Regan, who had not played since round six, led a bare-bones outfit after a fortnight of bloodletting.

Former Wanderers centre back Mullen made his Jets debut alongside Regan in five team changes from the Adelaide rout.

New assistant coaches Mark Jones, James Pascoe and Jesse Vanstrattan, who also acted as back-up keeper, joined besieged coach Phil Stubbins on the sideline for the first time.

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