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|August 18, 2000||
First Aboriginal gold medallist qualifies
Nova Peris-Kneebone, a former hockey player who was the first Aboriginal to win an Olympic gold medal, qualified to run the 400 metres at the Sydney Games by winning the event at the Australian trials on Friday.
She will join dual 400-metre World champion and gold medal favourite Cathy Freeman, also an Aboriginal, who has already qualified for the Australian team and will link up with Peris-Kneebone in the 4x400m relay.
"Second Olympics, different sport. My dream has come true. It really is unbelievable," said Peris-Kneebone who won a hockey gold at Atlanta in 1996.
Peris-Kneebone's time of 52.21 seconds was well behind Freeman's best this year, 49.56. Freeman is based in Europe and is not competing at the trials.
Peris-Kneebone, 29, has shaken off glandular fever after returning from a disappointing European campaign two weeks ago.
"It was such a relief to cross that line. I didn't have a very good European campaign. Two weeks ago I was searching. My form wasn't good."
Peris-Kneebone, who welcomed the Olympic torch to Australia in June before its 100-day odyssey around the continent, said she would love to make the 400m semi-finals at the Games but her dream was to run with Freeman in the 4x400-metre relay final.
"That would be awesome," she said.
Meanwhile, Matt Shirvington, Australia's best hope in the 100 metres at the Games, produced an encouraging time of 10.11 seconds in winning the Olympic trial on Friday.
His time was nowhere near American gold medal favourite Maurice Greene's World record of 9.79 seconds but the 21-year-old insisted he had it in him to run faster.
Shirvington, fourth in the Commonwealth Games two years ago in a national record time of 10.03, said: "It's amazing. I saw the five (Olympic) rings before my eyes. I'm so happy to be in the team.
"I have been waiting to run this fast. I know I can go faster," said Shirvington, who wore a full body suit during Thursday's chilly and windy conditions in the heats but was back in shorts for Friday's final.
Mail Sports Editor
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