Freeman laments no 400m runner
By Paul Mulvey
Olympic legend Cathy Freeman is disappointed
no Australian woman has qualified for the 400m.
Cathy Freeman will have an empty feeling at the London Olympics without an Australian woman to watch in the 400m.
The 2000 Olympic champion says she's disappointed no Australian woman came close to the qualifying standard for the track event she turned into a national celebration at the Sydney Games.
"It just feels empty now. I'll be looking down when the heats start, thinking `if only there was an Australian girl'," Freeman said.
"But the way it is, is the way it should be. You have to meet certain standards to be in the Olympics."
No Australian woman has run under the Olympic qualifying time of 51.55 seconds in three years.
Caitlin Pincott is the fastest Australian this year, but her 52.68 is well short of the standard, as is Tamsyn Manou's 2011 national best of 52.15.
Pincott's time is even more than half a second slower than Australian great Betty Cuthbert's run to win gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Australia's best recent hope, Jody Henry, retired due to injury late last year, but her best of 52.20 still wouldn't have earned her a berth in London.
This year's national title was won by Queenslander Caitlin Sargent in a pedestrian 53.21, while Manou ran 52.77 at the Olympic trials.
Australia's depth in the event is so poor, it couldn't qualify a women's 4x400m relay team for London.
But Freeman, who still holds the national record with the 48.63 she ran to win silver at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, says she doesn't know the answer to replenishing Australia's 400m stocks.
"Maybe it is cyclical or maybe the buck stops with Athletics Australia," she said.
"Maybe our kids are being distracted and not wanting to sprint.
"I don't really know the answer.
"All I know is I'm testament to being a kid from a small town with the right support team around me who can develop from grassroots into the world's best."
Freeman will be in London for the Games working with sponsors and acting as an unofficial mentor for Australian athletes.