Champion Melissa Breen enters Stawell Gift with a plan to win

MELISSA Breen feels mentally smarter and more physically tuned to work into unchartered territory at Central Park this Easter.

Breen has tasted the Stawell Gift before – in 2011 she became the fifth woman to line up in heats for the nation’s richest footrace – but vowed she would not attempt to do so again until she felt stronger.

Australia’s fastest female today vies to become the first woman to win a spot in the Stawell Gift semi-finals on Easter Monday.

The difference between 2011 and now, she says, has been schooling herself on her game.

“It’s about getting work done while listening to your body – the smartest athlete is not necessarily the one that is training every day,” Breen said.

“After I broke the Australian (100m) record, I took it pretty easy for a few weeks allowing my body to recover properly.

“Going into this season, I’ve continued working on technical aspects of my race.”

Stawell fits nicely into Breen’s schedule this season, falling after the national championships and Commonwealth Games selection trials and, having made the Australian team first cut, becomes part of her Glasgow preparations before a two-week stint in Japan.

Breen has been piecing her Stawell Gift bid together since 2011.

The Canberra-based athlete, part of the strong Matt Beckenham stable, became the first to win the women’s gift off scratch in 2012 and, while injury moved her into a commentary role last year, Breen has been building her race to reach the semis in the prestigious 120m handicap.

Breen’s quest has her in heat 12 today, set to run at 2.25pm, as frontmarker in the black with defending Stawell Gift champion Andrew Robinson, the Tasmanian, in the red off 3.5m.

She is confident she can run a time capable of advancing to the next round, carefully calculating the time she must beat off her 10m mark.

It all comes down to her finely-tuned plan.

“It’s so different running the pros to the amateurs. I’ll be the one they are chasing and the boys will not want to be beaten by me, so I know they will be chasing hard,” Breen said.

“This is the complete opposite to running the women’s gift where I start off scratch and have control in assessing and seeing where everyone is.

“I just have to focus on my own race. This is a great chance to focus on things we’ve been working on in training.”

Breen said it became a big talking point when she stepped out for the Stawell Gift heats three years ago.

She is determined to create a talking point at Central Park again by going one step further, two months after breaking a 20-year-old Australian 100m record.

“I guess it’s a record breaking year,” Breen said.

“2014 is a big year and I want to take it as far as I can.”

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

WOMEN'S GIFT HEATS

HEAT 1 12.15pm

RED MELISSA BREEN 0

WHITE TAMARA HAMOND 9.5

BLUE GRACE O’DWYER* 12

YELLOW BETHANY SIMPSON* 13

GREEN TAYLAH PERRY 14

PINK BELINDA CARUSI 15.25

BLACK AMY VAN BRAAM 16.5

GREY CARMEN DEANE 18

HEAT 2 12.18pm

RED TARA HAWKING 9.25

WHITE EMMA JOHNSON 11.75

BLUE JENNA CARTLEDGE* 13

YELLOW PAMELA AUSTIN 13.75

GREEN LAUREN BUCHANAN 15

PINK LAUREN CAMPBELL 16.5

BLACK KYLIE WILLIAMS 18

GREY CHLOE BARNARD 18

HEAT 3 12.21pm

RED HANA BASIC 4.25

WHITE SAMANTHA LIND 10

BLUE ABBEY FREER 12

YELLOW JESSICA PAYNE 13

GREEN NATASHA INGLIS 14

PINK ROSAMOND GILDEN 15.25

BLACK ELLIE MEICH 16.75

GREY KAITLYN PATTEN 18

HEAT 4 12.24pm

RED ANGELA BYRT 5.5

WHITE ALEXIA LOIZOU 10

BLUE NATASHA HUGHES 12.25

YELLOW KEELY HENDERSON 13

GREEN KIMBERLEY GEELAN 14

PINK NATASHA MCDOWELL 15.25

BLACK SAMANTHA HARGREAVES 18

HEAT 5 12.27pm

RED LAUREN WELLS 5.75

WHITE TARA ANGELL 10.25

BLUE EMMA YATES 12.25

YELLOW NARELLE LEHMANN* 13

GREEN KELLY MCDONNELL 14.25

PINK STEPHANIE JINKS 15.25

BLACK KASEY MOORE 16.75

GREY MEGAN MCMAHON 18

HEAT 6 12.30pm

RED NICOLE KAY 6

WHITE MELANIE PURKISS 10.25

BLUE CAITLIN HAWKS 12.5

YELLOW LARA GAMBINO 13

GREEN CARA BOUSTEAD 14.25

PINK LUCY BUCKLEY 15.5

BLACK CELIA COSGRIFF 16.75

HEAT 7 12.33pm

RED KENDRA HUBBARD 6

WHITE EMILY HOUSE 10.5

BLUE SARAH BLIZZARD 12.5

YELLOW KATE JONES* 13.25

GREEN ANNA PASQUALI 14.25

PINK ELLIE MAGUIRE 16.75

BLACK JACQUELINE SCOTT 18

HEAT 8 12.36pm

RED MADDIE COATES 6.25

WHITE LAUREN GORRINGE 1 0.5

BLUE SOPHIE WOOD 12.5

YELLOW SOPHIA POWER 13.25

GREEN DELANY KEATING* 14.5

PINK JACQUELINE MCCANN* 15.5

BLACK ELYSHA SCOWN 17

HEAT 9 12.39pm

RED ALICIA WRENCH-DOODY 6.5

WHITE SARAH SALMON 10.5

BLUE CARA WHITE 12.5

YELLOW CLEO ANDERSON* 13.25

GREEN MICHELLE DAVIS S 14.5

PINK NICOLA COOMBE 15.5

BLACK NADEEN BROWN 17

GREY AMY TOZER 18

HEAT 10 12.42pm

RED TARA DOMASCHENZ* 7.75

WHITE OLIVIA FIEN 10.5

BLUE RACHAEL CARNEGIE 12.5

YELLOW AMIE MITTIGA 13.5

GREEN CELESTE DYER 15.5

PINK LAUREN KEATING 17

BLACK MORGAN DEANE 18

HEAT 11 12.45pm

RED HAYLEY WYPER 8.5

WHITE MELISSA HOWARD 11.25

BLUE LILLY CASTLE 12.5

YELLOW KYLIE NEWTON 13.5

GREEN SAMANTHA POMROY 14.5

PINK SUSAN SINCLAIR 15.5

BLACK SIOBHAN LOUGHNAN 17

GREY JESSICA FARRUGIA 18

HEAT 12 12.48pm

RED ASHLEE MOORE .5

WHITE GEMMA FAIRCLOUGH 11.5

BLUE NADIA DOMASCHENZ* 12.75

YELLOW ELENI GILDEN 13.5

GREEN HOLLY CANNIZZO 14.5

PINK LORYN SAVOIA 15.5

BLACK JULIA BOATMAN 17

GREY CASSANDRA ANDERSON 18

HEAT 13 12.51pm

RED CAITLIN NEWSON 8.5

WHITE KARLEE BAILEY 11.5

BLUE ALICE PLATTEN 13

YELLOW KARA BULL 13.5

GREEN ALI TREWARTHA 14.5

PINK CLAIRE THIELE K 15.75

BLACK TIFFANY BOATMAN 17.5

HEAT 14 12.54pm

RED KATIE MOORE 8.75

WHITE LAUREN EDWARDS 11.5

BLUE BRIANNA FULLER 13

YELLOW SARAH BYRON 13.75

GREEN KIRSTY STEVENS 14.5

PINK KARLY TAFFT 16

BLACK LAUREN MCHUGH 18

GREY TARRYN FISHER 18

HEAT 15 12.57pm

RED LAURA JANE HILDITCH 8.75

WHITE HOLLY DOBBYN* 11.5

BLUE TIERRA EXUM 13

YELLOW KATIE JURY 13.75

GREEN YASMIN OPENSHAW 15

PINK HETTIE DRISCOLL 16.5

BLACK CATHERINE DONALDSON 18

GREY JESSIE HART 18

* BALLARAT

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