With the outdoor athletics season getting into full swing in Australia, as much of the rest of the world prepares for the rigours of winter, a number of top-level athletes have been making an early start on their preparations for the 2000 Olympics.
The 400m world champion from Athens 97 and Seville 99, Cathy Freeman, returned to the track in Melbourne, competing in three races in four days. In her first outing on Thursday, 2 December, she took first place in a 200m, with a winning time of 23.80 (1.4 m/s). Four days later, she won a 100m in 12.05 (into a 2.4 m/s headwind), and ran the anchor leg of the 4x400m relay for the Ringwood Club, finishing in a time of 3:43.61.
Emma George has also returned to competition after her unhappy experiences in Seville (14th with 4.15m), although her results so far have been rather modest: 4.10 (1) in Perth on November 28; 4.10 (1) in Perth again on 5 December and 3.80 (2) in Perth on 12 December. On the latter occasion, her 20 year-old compatriot, Kym Howe, who has a personal best of 4.16 and won this competition with a clearance of 4.00m, beat her.
After a long absence (including missing the World Championships in Seville), Kenyas Sally Barsosio, the World Champion over 10,000m in Athens 97 (and bronze medallist over the same distance in Stuttgart in 93, when she was still a teenager), is back on the scene. In Melbourne, during the Zatopek Classic Meeting, she took fourth palace in the 10,000m with a time of 32:26.28, her best time of the past two seasons. She was beaten by three Australians: McCann, Risk and Fearnley.
Barsosio appears to have regained some confidence after competing in Kenya. On 14 November, she won the 4 km short cross in Eldoret (Rift Valley), with a clocking of 14:01.