Bad boy on track to make amends
By Gene Stephan,
The West Australian
January 21, 2012
John Steffensen has rekindled his love for the track and patched up his relationship with Athletics Australia as he strives to regain his place as the country's leading 400m sprinter.
The dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist and relay silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics is back home in Perth preparing for the Qantas Athletics Tour.
He is expected to compete in the Perth leg, the Go for 2&5 Track Classic, at Mt Claremont on February 11.
The 29-year-old, whose career has been dogged by controversy, said he had made changes and surrounded himself with the right people to achieve his goals.
Lack of dedication prevented him from improving on the 44.73sec. he produced in winning Commonwealth Games gold in Melbourne in 2006. That time made him the third-fastest man in Australia of all time, behind record-holder Darren Clark (44.38) and Miles Murphy (44.71).
"I was getting aches and pains and was not able to perform as a professional athlete through lack of preparation," Steffensen said.
Since representing Australia in the 4x400m relay at the world championships in South Korea, he has spent the past five months training with a new team and believes he has an opportunity to step back on the track and deliver.
"You get to a stage in life where you have a defining moment and realise what you really want to do with your life," he said.
"After Korea I realised there were things about myself and my running that I was not paying as much attention to as I had done and which needed changing.
"I have not given myself the best possible opportunity recently because I have had a lot of other things going on, which people have read about and were not all about running. What we have done is simplify things around me to make sure I am focused on running and nothing else.
"The major change has been to make sure the level of commitment is as high as the results I want to achieve."
He said he had committed to AA, in particular chief executive Dallas O'Brien and high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth, and they had provided excellent support over the past six months.
What we have done is simplify things around me to make sure I am focused."