Kate Jones is feeling relaxed in the countdown to her Ballarat Women’s Gift defence at the City Oval this weekend.
The 24-year-old said with a desire to win her hometown feature sprint, she had always felt the pressure of wanting to succeed at the meet.
She said having ticked off that achievement last year, it was a different feeling this time around.
Jones said her desire to succeed was as strong as ever, but she also believed she would be able to enjoy the experience of running in front of a home crowd a little more than usual.
Jones, who is part of the Mick Benoit stable, has had a busy Victorian Athletic League season and is confident the schedule has her in the best possible shape for the Active Women and Girls Ballarat Women’s Gift 120m heats on Saturday, and then hopefully semi-finals and a final on Sunday.
She said her starts continued to be a strong focus for her and the more often she raced the more she was able to work on them.
“My starts are my weakness. Racing is the best form of training.”
Jones won last year’s Gift off 9m, edging out fellow Ballarat sprinter Tara Domaschenz (5m). She runs off 8.25m this time.
Jones said while she was pleased with her form and feeling good, the quality of athletes seemed stronger.
She said she had had a look at the City Oval surface and was excited about competing at the new venue.
“It looks great.”
Past winner Kiara Reddingius (0.5m) is backmarker for the Ballarat Women’s Gift, with Jessica Payne (1.75m), the Ballarat trio of Holly Dobbyn (2.75m), Tara Domaschenz (4m) and Grace O’Dwyer (4.25m), and Angela Byrt (4.5m) and Liv Ryan (4.75m) other backmarkers.
The two-day Ballarat Athletic Club Carnival begins on Saturday with the junior dash for cash from 9am.
Ballarat Women's Gift heats start at 2.15pm and Len Templar Ballarat Gift 120m heats at 2.45pm ahead of Sunday’s semi-finals and finals.