FAST FEET: Runner Ella Nelson.
FAST FEET: Runner Ella Nelson. Mark Nolan

Next generation to take step up

IN THE absence of Sally Pearson, the next generation of Australian female track stars will lead the way in Rio.

In fact, the country will be represented in every women's running event for the first time since Sydney 2000, among them rising star Ella Nelson (200m).

Securing the national title - and her ticket to Rio - the 20-year-old Nelson set a personal best time (22.53 seconds) in February. The time was the quickest by any Australian woman over 200m since Melinda Gainsford-Taylor at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

It would have seen her finish sixth in the final of the event in London 2012.

Though she had represented Australia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she first made everyone sit up and take notice when beating one of her heroes, Pearson, and 100m record-holder Melissa Breen at the Sydney Track Classic last year.

The Sydneysider was inspired to run after watching Gainsford-Taylor (22.42sec) and Cathy Freeman (22.53sec) run in the 200m final in Sydney.

Having trained under Michael Dooley since she was eight, spending time at the elite Altis centre in Phoenix has further honed her talent.

Morgan Mitchell, 21, will fly the Aussie flag in the 400m after winning the national title in Sydney in March.

Going from strength to strength, the Victorian opened her recent European campaign with a stunning personal-best of 51.25sec (in Birmingham in June) - the fastest time by an Australian for 13 years - to move up 12 places on the Australian all-time list. She won her first national 400m title in 2014 aged 19.

Michelle Jenneke, meanwhile, will look to show she's more than a YouTube novelty act in the 100m hurdles after becoming an internet sensation via her jiggling pre-race routine.

She set a personal-best time of 12.82sec and became the second fastest Australian of all-time - behind Pearson - at the 2015 nationals in Brisbane, before defending her crown this year in Sydney.

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