Isabel Long made it back-to-back Australian titles last weekend, winning the under-18 400m hurdles in an absolute thriller of a final at Sydney Olympic Park.
The Goulburn Valley Grammar School student led for much of the race, but had to hold off a late surge from New South Wales’ Susie Douglas, winning by a mere 0.02-of-a-second.
Long’s mother Sue said it had been hard to watch as the two speedsters duked it out in the closing stages.
‘‘Absolutely, it was heart-in-mouth stuff,’’ she said.
‘‘Coming around the bend she was probably a metre-and-a-half in front, but it’s a really tough race and it doesn’t really start until the front straight.
‘‘It’s who has the legs left and she just kept going — but maybe if there were another five metres she might have been pipped at the post.’’
The pair was clearly evenly matched; Douglas had pipped Long by 0.14-of-a-second in the preliminary round, before the Mulwala runner delivered the goods to take home gold.
Sue said while she was ecstatic with the result, it had come along with some pain.
‘‘She was exhausted, with the lactic acid going through her legs we pretty much had to drag her off the track,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s months of work for her, you really live, breathe and eat it.’’
Long had won gold last year in a time of 63.32, but went even better this year with a personal best time of 62.12.
‘‘The final was only her third run in three months, she had a quad injury in November and has been really limited since,’’ Sue said.
‘‘She ran the Victorian Championships in mid-February which wasn’t the greatest run, but then it was off to Sydney.
‘‘She won the event last year at the under-17 level, and backed it up this year which was really exciting.’’