http://www.moreechampion.com.au/news/local/sport/athletics/gander-off-to-world-championships/2248368.aspxGander off to world championshipsLiam Gander, left, pictured with training partner
Dallas Green, has been chosen in the Australian
4 x 100 relay squad.By NICK BENDEL
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.”