Ross back on track in Qbn
BY JON TUXWORTH ATHLETICS
26 Nov, 2011
Had the cards fallen differently, Josh Ross could be in the United States creating sporting history.
Instead, the five-time Australian 100m champion will make a low-key return to running at today's Queanbeyan Gift.
Ross has recently been chasing his NFL dream, but the lure of the track ultimately proved too hard to resist.
Today's $10,000 race will be his first since he quit athletics, citing a lack of motivation, two years ago.
The 30-year-old is refreshed and refocused, and ready to launch an assault at qualifying for next year's Olympics.
''I felt like I needed to stop and pursue something else in my life, because athletics was there for so long and it's all I did and knew,'' Ross said.
''But athletics is in my blood and I started to miss the life, training and atmosphere, so here I am.''
Ross's quest to become the first Australian to play wide receiver in the NFL wasn't just a pipe dream.
He impressed at an official testing event last year, where observers rated him in the top 10per cent of prospects.
''My coach over there was freaking out when he was teaching me to run routes,'' Ross said.
''We wanted to set our goals high, and become the first Australian wide receiver the NFL's ever seen.
''I could have a scholarship and a college over there right now, but I weighed up the options and I have my heart set on the Olympics.''
Ross insisted he no longer harbours any NFL aspirations.
He is hell bent on proving to his doubters he's still Australia's fastest man.
Ross made the quarter-finals at the Atlanta Games in 2004, but failed to line up for the Olympic trials in 2008.
His then coach Paul Nancarrow withdrew him, stating ''there's some scary demons there, that's for sure.''
Now self coached, Ross is in a better place and ready to reclaim his mantle as the country's premier sprinter.
''I'm just going to stick to athletics, and I haven't ruled out going to another Olympics [Rio de Janeiro in 2016],'' he said. ''I'm coming into the best shape of my life mentally and physically and feel like I have unfinished business. I know I can do so much better than I have done, and I've got six years of athletics left in me if I take care of myself.''
Ross is confident in his own ability, but far from cocky.
He is quietly spoken, and definitely not from the Anthony Mundine mould.
The 2002 winner of the Queanbeyan Gift, Ambrose Ezenwa, is the only man to win from the 0.75m mark, from which Ross will start today.
But Ross is quietly confident he can toast his comeback with a win from the back of the field.
''I think the wet weather will help me,'' he said.
''You can't turn up and do well if your mind's not right and other stuff is going on externally, like two years ago.
''My mind just didn't want to be there [the track], but I'm a different beast now.''