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PROTRACK » GENERAL » ASN’s Matt Fox interviews Australia’s Fastest woman – Melissa Breen

ASN’s Matt Fox interviews Australia’s Fastest woman – Melissa Breen

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Matt Inglis Fox - Melissa Breen, thank you very much for joining us at the Australian Sports Network for a quick chat. You're still quite fresh off your new Australian Record, which was a 20 year old record that was previously set by Melinda Gainsford Taylor when you were just a toddler. Has it all sunk in yet that you are the fastest Australian female sprinter of all time?

Melissa Breen - Thank you so much. It is slowly beginning to sink in, but it still overwhelms me that I was able to achieve a lifetime goal. And breaking that record at my home track in Canberra with my parents and friends present was just the icing on the cake!

Matt Inglis Fox - It was also quite early on in the season, being only your 3rd race, with races prior being 11.57, 11.32 and then the drop to the record of 11.11. Was this expected, this early? And at a relatively small meeting in reality (compared to where many of the other Australian records are set)?

Melissa Breen - It sure was so early in the season, but isn't that exciting abut what's ahead! I knew I was in great shape, everything in training suggested I was in PB shape, but I didn't think the Aussie record was possible just yet. The conditions in Canberra that Sunday were ideal for sprinting, so I had to take advantage of that. To back it up in the final running 90min later running 11.15 and taking the win was a real millstone in my athletics career.

Matt Inglis Fox - It certainly is exciting about what's ahead. It'll be very interesting to see how much lower you can go. Before the ACT champs, your best was 11.25 so that was a big drop. Although it obviously get's exponentially harder as you drop lower, do you feel another big drop to sub 11 seconds is possible? If so, this year?

Melissa Breen - It has been a huge journey to break the Australian record, and I believe one day I'll be able to break that 11 second barrier. By no means was my race perfect, and being able to look at the data from AIS Biomechanics I can see there is still room to improvement. It's hard to put a limit or say when I will break the 11sec barrier, but if it is this year that would be unbelievable, but if it takes me till RIO 2016, or even TOKYO 2020 then it will be worth it.

Matt Inglis Fox - Very good! What were some of the things you picked up on, on the recording that you could improve on?
Melissa Breen - I need to be able to hit 0.96 for a 10m spilt, I have hit 0.97 and I did in that race. And I need to hold  my speed better, I dropped off to 1.04 for my last 10m. That should be 1.00 at worst. It's exciting there are still many aspects to work on, as well as my technique.

Matt Inglis Fox - That 0.04 in the last 10m is a significant potential improvement. You train with Matty B and the squad down there in Canberra… It would be great to hear a little about the set up there and the training you've been doing.

Melissa Breen - Trust me, it used to be a whole lot worse than just 1.04, got as bad as 1.10 so I have improved a lot! Matt Beckenham has been my coach since late 2006, and there has been many highs and lows, but throughout that all the respect and loyalty we have for each other survives, the squad is just awesome to be apart, and I feel very lucky to be apart of it. Lauren Wells (Boden) and myself train at the same time every day, although we're doing different sessions it's so good to have someone always there. Training is awful at times, but we are a team and are working towards a common goal.

Matt Inglis Fox - It's interesting that you say that training is awful at times. It would be great to hear more about your training. You mentioned to me before this interview that you spend a bit less time in the gym than people would expect….

Melissa Breen - I'm a speed animal. So speed endurance sessions are my least favourite, but I know and understand they must be done. I'm looking at running the 200m as well as the 100m at Sydney & Melbourne Track Classics as well as nationals so I know that training will greatly assist in that! I can look at weights and get bigger, I'm extremely lucky with the body I've got. Matt and I learnt that I put on size very easily, so I don't do any specific upper body work, or squats, dead lifts, RDL's. I love power cleans, and was taught very well from my first gym coach Kendall. A lot of my gym work so more plyometic based, and using therabands and medicine balls.

Matt Inglis Fox - Very interesting that you don't do any squats. This is something that would suprise a lot of people. How often are you in the gym and on the track, per week?

Melissa Breen - I got to the point where I could single leg squat over 100kg, Matt and I thought that was strong enough. I'm in the gym Tuesday/Thursday but only once during comp week. track is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. But not all running session. Some consist of plyo sessions, hurdle jumps etc.

Matt Inglis Fox - Thanks for the training insight. A quick change of topic to funding. Quite quickly after setting the Australian record, you had a football club support you with a grant; it would be great to hear a bit about that and also, has anything changes with Athletics Australia now? Also, who are your sponsors now?

Breen - I have been with ASICS since late 2008 and they have been so wonderful throughout all the ups and downs. I receive product off Oakley. Since my record run, Sambora Beach Toes have come on board Breen Team, an Australian owned and made nail vanish company. A massage clinic in Canberra called Clinic 88 came on board after I lost my funding last year. ACT Academy of Sport have always been by my side. Richard Rolf who owns Rolf Audi in Canberra has been apart of Breen Team since late 2013. I'm so grateful for all the support out there, and it has been truly overwhelming to read so many thoughtful and lovely messages through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It was absolutely overwhelming to receive $12,000 from Susan Alberti who is the VP of Wester Bulldogs AFL Team. Obviously the money is wonderful, but it is he belief in me she has shown by this gesture that is truly humbling. I look forward to meeting Susan and personally thanking her when I'm in Melbourne before the Track Classic. Athletics Australia will review my non NAS selection after the National Championships in April, as per their guidelines, hopefully after that I will be back as a funded athlete. Until then though, nothing changes for me, I'll be training hard and smart to get faster and continually proving all my supporters right.

Matt Inglis Fox - That's very good to hear and I'm sure as you get closer to the 11 second mark, much more of this will come. Off the track, what are some of the things you spend your time on. Do you work at the same time?

Melissa Breen - I'm a coach, so I live at the track! I coach a group of Juniors coming through Canberra with Lauren, as part of the MattyB FIT4FUN program, kids range from ages 7 - 16 in our different programs. I also help coach the senior MattyB DEPT squad. My own training is done in the morning and I put my coach hat on in the afternoons. Away from the track, I enjoy doing nothing, some Sundays I don't even get out of my PJ's. I have some great friends from school still there was a group of 8 girls and we are still quite close, far away from my track life!

Matt Inglis Fox - That's awesome that you can also assist in the sport you love at the same time as cope with all of the "awful training." No, you did mention it was awful "at times" but regardless, it's really starting to pay off, clearly. Finally, what are the goals moving forward. 2014…. 2016… and 2020. Be honest!

Melissa Breen - It's worth it, there will always be hard times but the good times shine so much brighter. To medal in the 100m and 4x 100m Relay in Glasgow. to be in the 100m final in Rio that is my gold medal right there, top eight in the world and breaking the 11sec barrier when ever that might be... 2020 Olympics seem so far, anything is possible as I've proven to myself these last few weeks so why not aim for a medal. I'll be at the peak of my career aged 29. Bring it on.

Matt Inglis Fox - Excellent attitude and I don't see why you cannot be in the mix when (not if) you're running under the 11 second mark!

Melissa Breen - I've got the right team around me, who believe and have always kept the faith. I'm so lucky to have them all. And it's been so humbling to give the record back to them.

Matt Inglis Fox - Thanks very much for the chat Melissa and we look forward to seeing what the Breen Team achieves this year and into the future.

Melissa Breen - Thank you! I'm so excited about what the future holds. For now though, back to boring normal life, sleep eat train repeat x

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