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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Tabitha West first female to tackle Black Opal

Tabitha West first female to tackle Black Opal

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West first female to tackle Black Opal

Bendigo Advertiser
02 Mar, 2012

ALBURY’S Tabitha West will be the first woman to race in the Black Opal 400m at the Bendigo International Madison athletics-cycling carnival on March 10-11.

The Bendigo Bank-backed classic is the richest 400m in the country.

West said yesterday she was looking forward to racing again at the Tom Flood Sports Centre.

Her lead-up includes racing in tomorrow night’s 400m at the Olympic selection trials at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

The A qualifying time for London is 51.55 seconds, with the B mark being 52.35.

Although heavy rain on the border has affected training in recent weeks, West is confident of running well in Melbourne and then on Bendigo’s track.

“The organisers of the Bendigo carnival spoke to my coach (Marcus Arnold) about the possibility of running the Black Opal 400m.

“The idea of doing something different for the event appealed to me, and racing against the men is something I have done before,” West said of a record which includes winning last season’s open 400m at Ringwood.

“The Black Opal 400m is also the most prestigious on the circuit.”

The 25-year-old’s track record includes wins in the Epping 200m, with a highlight of this season being victory in the women’s 100m at the Ringwood Gift.

“Earlier this season I focused more on the shorter distances, mainly to build up more speed for the 400m,” West said of racing and training plans.

West was backmarker in the women’s 400m at the Wangaratta Gift on the Australia Day holiday weekend.

Now in her third season of sprinting, West said a major goal was to be in contention for a relay for the London Olympics.

“It will be really tough to beat the qualifying times, but it won’t be for lack of trying.”

She was fifth in the 400m at last year’s national championships.

A national junior champion in long jump and triple jump, West first took up athletics at age 12 and switched to sprinting a few years ago.

She said she had learnt a lot from Arnold and others in the athletics stable, which includes Thurgoona’s Daniel Steinhauser, as past winner of the City of Greater Bendigo-backed Bendigo Thousand (120m) and Maryborough Gift.

West’s most recent campaign in Bendigo was in 2009.

Away from the athletics track, West is manager at a recruitment agency in Albury.

The athletics card at the Bendigo International Madison includes the women’s 120m, novice 400m, backmarkers and frontmarkers 70m, Ray Foley Memorial 800m, RACV junior 120m, and the women’s-veterans 800m.

Athletics Bendigo classics, the Richard Kitt Memorial 1500m and Sally Conroy Memorial 200m will be run on the Barnard Street track.

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