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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Gander in fast lane for world athletic championships

Gander in fast lane for world athletic championships

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Gander in fast lane for world athletic championships
Newcastle Herald
03 Aug, 2011

ELERMORE Vale sprinter Liam Gander had two-and-half months of frustration and uncertainty turn to relief yesterday when he was named in Australian team for the world track and field championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Gander looked certain for a spot in the national 4x100-metre relay team after finishing fourth in the 100m final at the Australian titles in Melbourne on April 16, which doubled as selection trials for the world championship side.

But the 23-year-old was overlooked for the preliminary national team in favour of Queenslander Matt Davies, who was disqualified in the semi-finals in Melbourne.

Gander has worked since to prove himself to selectors, running at meetings in Japan and Taiwan with the national relay team and on the Gold Coast at the Downunder Meet.

Yesterday he was rewarded when named as part of a five-man 4x100m relay team in the final 47-member Australia squad for the worlds, which begin on August 27.

‘‘It was just frustrating waiting, I just needed an answer and now I’ve got it finally,’’ Gander said. ‘‘I’m just relieved at the moment, the emotion hasn’t really kicked in, but I’m sure it will.

‘‘It’s a big step towards the Olympics. It will be a good experience. I think I will come back a different athlete.’’

Gander, who travels with the team to South Korea on Wednesday, still has work to do make the final cut in Daegu but believes he is in great shape.

‘‘I’m pretty confident I’ll have a run, and from the sounds of things I will,’’ he said.

‘‘The times at training are good. I’m just not missing any sessions and doing what I’m supposed to do and working hard.’’

Gander, who moved to Newcastle from Moree in 2004 to attend Hunter Sports High School, joined East Maitland sprinter Laura Whaler (4x100m relay) and Eleebana-bred Australian discus champion Benn Harradine in the national side.

Whaler trains with Gander in Maitland coach Tony Fairweather’s squad.



Gander off to world championships

Gander in fast lane for world athletic championships 1356314
Liam Gander, left, pictured with training partner
Dallas Green, has been chosen in the Australian
4 x 100 relay squad.

Moree Champion
04 Aug, 2011

LIAM Gander is going to the World Championships.

Gander, 23, received a phone call from Athletics Australia on Tuesday telling him he had been given the fifth and final place in the 4 x 100 relay squad.

It was a call he had been expecting after finishing as the fourth-fastest Australian at the Australian Athletics Championships in April.

But it was one his coach, Tony Fairweather, feared might never come.

The first four relay positions were decided straight after the national titles. Fairweather had expected the team to be finalised on Monday, so when the day came and went, he wondered if Gander had been unsuccessful.

The World Championships will be held in Daegu, South Korea, from August 27 to September 4.

The Champion spoke to Gander three hours after he received the good news - and discovered he was still coming to terms with it.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” he said.

Gander said he was not nervous about the thought of competing in front of a big crowd.

“I’m not nervous - just pumped and ready to go,” he said.

Being handed a World Championships debut was fitting reward for a lot of hard work, according to Gander and Fairweather.

“I’ve worked very hard,” Gander said.

“It’s been a bit of a campaign, but we finally got there,” Fairweather said.

“All the hard work has paid off.”

Both men identified Korea as an important step towards qualifying for next year’s Olympics.

“He’s really excited about it - and the experience he’ll gain out of it leading into the London Olympics,” Fairweather said.

“It was essential he made this team for one step closer for the London Olympics.”

Gander predicted his time in Korea would inspire him to strive harder.

“When you come back it just makes you want to train harder for the next year, which is a bigger year,” Gander said.

“I’ve got to run faster.”

Fairweather said it was important Gander soaked up the experience of being around elite athletes like Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell.

By watching their routines Gander would observe he had many things in common with them, Fairweather said.

But he would also see he could still improve his professionalism and work ethic.

The more he learned, the more likely he would make it to London, Fairweather said.

The Australian team will be flying to Daegu on Wednesday. They will go into camp and spend three weeks acclimatising and training.

It will be Gander’s first time in Korea, although he has competed in Japan and Taiwan.

He said he was expecting conditions to be similar, and had heard there might be some dust and humidity in the air.

Gander said the relay squad would work on retaining their fitness and perfecting their baton changes.

None of the runners have qualified for the individual events, so they will be able to focus on the relay.

Both are advantages, according to Fairweather. By avoiding the individual events, the runners will stay fresher and reduce their chances of injury. And by focusing on baton changes in training, they will be able to hone their teamwork.

Fairweather described baton changes as an art that involves communication, technique and timing.

Relays, he said, aren’t about which quartet can run the quickest - they’re about which quartet can get their baton around the track quickest.

He said the Americans had often come undone, because despite having world-class athletes, their teamwork had not been good enough.

Gander said he was confident he and his teammates could make the final.

“We get along pretty well and we’ve trained together before and we’ve run together before, so I’m pretty confident we’ll go well,” he said.

Fairweather also called a finals appearance a realistic possibility.

He said Gander had the experience and temperament to cope with competing in such a high-pressure environment, while his teammates also had the ability to perform well.

“Hopefully the boys can do the job and also make the final - and then, who knows?”

Gander said the make-up of the relay team would be decided just before the World Championships - but that the entire squad would probably get a start at some point.

“From what I’ve heard I’ll be having a run,” he said.

Fairweather wants Korea to lead to bigger and better things for Gander - and other Moree Aborigines.

He said Gander is “doing it tough”, because athletics is an expensive support and he doesn’t have any sponsors.

He hopes that with the World Championships behind him and the Olympics to come, companies will get behind Gander.

And Fairweather said it would be wonderful if Gander could inspire Indigenous children from Moree to follow his path of hard work and discipline.

“I think he’s a good example for Indigenous kids,” he said.

“Liam’s never given up on the way he’s approached the sport. He’s a good kid.”

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