POSTCARD: Christie Dawes at home near Merewether Beach on Thursday’s picture-perfect start to spring before heading to Rio for her sixth Paralympic Games. Picture: Marina Neil.Christie Dawes has been there and done it all before but the 36-year-old from Merewetherwillarrive in Rio this Sunday in career-best form.
On the verge of her sixth Paralympic Games, the wheelchair racer has claimed two prestigious national distance titles, broken long-standing course records andhit newperformance markers.
Or as fellow Newcastle-based athlete, training partner and Australian team captain Kurt Fearnley put it –“she is flying”.
Final countdown to #Rio2016 with Christie Dawes from Merewether @[email protected]@newcastleheraldpic.twitter杭州m/8Nv8kfUEES
— Josh Callinan (@joshuacallinan) September 1, 2016
“At the Gold Coast Marathon she smashed the Aussie record of Louise Sauvageby almosteightminutes and then she won the City2Surf in record time as well,” Fearnley said.
“I’ve neverseen Christie push the way she is.”
This sudden surge of confidence, afterdisappointing showings at Boston and London marathons in April,has come about since changing her race position slightly.
Simply lifting her feet and shifting her weight forward, Dawes hasnoticedthe difference and significantly improvedboth her average and top speeds by almost two kilometres an hour.
“I’m able to hang with the pack for longer and itjust makes me more relaxed,” she said.
“I’m pushing well, I’m fit, I’mhealthy and confident about my position. Out of everything, it’s what I’m least worried about.
“NowIknow Ihave done every single thing I can to give myself the best chance of doing well. I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Dawes will contest four events on her first visit to South America, starting on the track with the women’s1500 and 5000 metre T54 events between September 12 and 15, alongside thewomen’s4x400m T53-54 relay. The main aim of the one-time primary school teacherremains the women’s T54 marathon on the 11thand final day of competition (September 18).
And while medals aren’t at the forefront of her mind, a gold would give Dawes a full set after silver in Beijing (4x100m relay) and bronze in London (5000m).
“The marathon is definitely my main focus, but I feel like I’m agood shot at making finals in both the 1500 and 5000,” she said.
“Idon’t really like thinkingin terms of medals. It doesn’t sit well with me and Idon’t like getting my confidence up. There’s along way to go before getting that shot, so good preparation is all I need at the moment.”
Next week the mother of five-year-old Charliearrives in the village andrejoins coach and husband Andrew as well as Fearnley and Rheed McCraken, who have been training in Florida.
ANALYSIS: Move in position on Games mission
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