All eyes on Hackett at nationals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

All eyes on Hackett at nationals

10/12/2006 05:39:55 AM Comments (0)

Alice Mills will have her last chance to make Australia's 2007 world titles team when she contests the 50 metres freestyle final on the last day of the national championships.

Mills, 20, enjoyed a return to form at the eight-day nationals by qualifying fastest in an encouraging 25.06 seconds ahead of world champion Libby Lenton (25.07).

But Mills needs to meet the strict qualifying standards to ensure she continues her remarkable run in the national team.

Despite her tender age, Mills has made every national team since the 2001 world titles.

She was an Athens relay gold medallist but has been off the boil since winning the 2005 national 100m freestyle title ahead of Jodie Henry and Lenton.

She bombed at the 2005 world titles and this year's Commonwealth Games.

That trend initially didn't change at the national titles.

She missed world titles selection in the 200m individual medley and her pet event the 100m freestyle.

But Mills has enjoyed a resurgence in the 50m and will make a last gasp bid for the 2007 worlds.

The Australian team for the world titles in Melbourne in March will be named after the national championships.

Meanwhile, Grant Hackett will vie for his 10th national 1,500m title in 11 outings when he lines up against a resurgent Craig Stevens at Chandler Aquatic Centre.

Hackett has endured a troubled preparation and was kept honest in the 400m and 800m finals by Stevens before pulling out of the 200m altogether.

Stevens is the fastest 1,500m qualifier but Hackett is still expected to maintain his remarkable run in the endurance event.

The world record holder and Olympic champion has not been beaten in the 1,500m since 1996.

Meanwhile, world record holder Jade Edmistone will take on 100m and 200m world champion Leisel Jones in the 50m breaststroke final.

"She's had it over me since the Commonwealth Games in this event," Edmistone said of Jones who won their Melbourne Games duel in March.

"It's a great battle, our best times are pretty close." In other finals tonight, veteran Matt Welsh is favourite in the 50m backstroke, Commonwealth champion Stephanie Rice is the one to beat in the women's 400m individual medley while defending champion Travis Nederpelt will be hungry to claim the men's 400m IM title.

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