Golden mum Jana targets record
By JOHN SALVADO
AFTER joining Cathy Freeman as Australia's only two-time world athletics champions, Jana Rawlinson is in the box seat to emulate her again in Beijing.
Rawlinson dug deeper than ever before in the final straight of Thursday night's 400m hurdles final when challenged by defending world champ Yuliya Pechonkina, holding on to win in 53.31 seconds her second-fastest time ever.
Pechonkina is the world record holder, but she has been unable to beat the Australian since 2004.
A year after winning her second world 400m title in 1999, Freeman went onto claim an unforgettable Olympic gold medal in Sydney.
Based on Thursday night's victory, only eight months after the birth of her son Cornelis, few would bet against Rawlinson who also won the world crown in 2003 doing the same thing next year in Beijing.
"I put Cathy on a pedestal and I aspire to be everything she has been," Rawlinson said yesterday.
"So realistically I am one step closer and if I can emulate anything she has done in the next few years then surely you retire a pretty happy person."
After running one of her best-ever technical races in the world championships semi-finals, Rawlinson was ahead of world record pace for eight of the 10 hurdles in the final. Then fatigue set in and it was steely determination that got her over the line.
In a big night for Australia, Craig Mottram advanced with ease to tomorrow's 5000m final.
Last year's world No.1 Steve Hooker also moved into today's pole vault decider.
Australian Jane Saville was also disqualified in the 20km walk, although this time there were no tears. Saville is best remembered for breaking down after her heart-wrenching ejection in the final stages of the Sydney Olympics race, with the gold medal almost in her grasp.
This was her first disqualification in six years.
Meanwhile, tired sprint king Tyson Gay plans a third gold medal attempt tonight, with the United States well positioned to win three of the five titles at stake.
Gay has the chance to do what few before him have done - scoop a trio of titles in a single meet with the United States, anchored by the Kentucky-native, hot favourites to win the 4x100m relay. He already has the 100m and 200m crowns.