Josh Ross may be in running for Olympics
BY DAVID MURRAY
24 Dec, 2011
It was a fairly low-key country NSW athletics meeting at Queanbeyan last Sunday - except for the fact born-again sprinter Joshua Ross was there taking the second step on what could be his long road to the London Olympics.
Ross, the 2003 and '05 Stawell Gift winner, who won five Australian national 100m titles and made the 100m semi-finals in Athens in 2004, was the fastest Australian on home soil (10.08sec) before retiring from athletics two years ago.
A rugby league player in his youth on the Central Coast, Ross - at well over six feet and 14 stone - was listed for try-outs with a couple of NFL football teams in the United States. That didn't work out and Australia's 4x100m relay hopes in London could be the big benefactor.
Ross, 30, made his comeback at the Zatopek Classic meeting in Melbourne on December 10. He ran well, but not as well as at Queanbeyan - where he won the 100m handicap off scratch in 10.69sec on grass and finished a close third off 0.75m in the Gift 120m final, giving big starts to Chris Hargreaves (9m) and Elliott Marynissen (7m).
"He won his semi-final of the Gift impressively and looked good when third in the final," veteran runner Dale Jones said.
"Daniel Batman [former Australian representative] was also there making his comeback, but he looked very big and not as good as Ross.
"The track wasn't lightning fast and he had a little bit up his sleeve.
"I reckon he's not far off 10.2sec shape."
Ross continues his return at the 125th Bay Sheffield Carnival at Glenelg starting on Tuesday.
More than 800 runners have nominated to compete for a record $70,000 in prize money and Ross will have his hands full, with defending Bay Sheffield Gift champion Jordan Caldow hoping to become the first sprinter since Al Green in 1983-84 to go back to back.
From there it's off to the famous Burnie Gift on New Year's Day.
But Ross won't know his handicap for the $15,000 Gift, after his mark was withheld by organisers still trying to determine his form.
Nevertheless, it's exciting times for sprinting in Australia just ahead of the summer track season and the national titles.
If Ross can continue his improvement and stay in one piece, Aaron Rouge-Serret, Anthony Alozie, Isaac Ntiamoah and company will have some real competition.
Unfortunately, Australia's female athlete of the year, Sally Pearson, won't be running at Bay Sheffield or Burnie after straining a quadricep muscle at the Gippsland Gift last weekend.
Pearson's coach Sharon Hannan said she expected the world champion hurdler to be back running at full pace within a month.
The January 14 Brisbane Track Classic is still on the agenda and so is Adelaide two weeks later, if the 25-year-old recovers as expected.