At what age did Jana Pittman start training?
Jana competed for Parramatta and Winston Hills LA clubs. Before competition, Jana always paints her finger and toe nails in the colours of who she is representing (i.e. club, state, nation) and wears a gold bracklet given to her by her former training partner, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor. Jana draws inspiration from a very unique tattoo of a bumble bee on her stomach, "aerodynamically the bumble bee cannot fly but it doesn't know this so it goes on flying anyway. It means I have been given this body and I'm capable of anything." In 2002 Jana commenced a Science degree by correspondence from Monash University. Jana is known for her fascination with collecting stuffed wombat toys and her nickname is JP. Jana was coached by Phil King and mentored by Phil's wife, Seoul Olympic 400m Hurdles champion, Debbie Flintoff-King. The Melbourne Zoo named baby Wombat 'Jana' in her honour. Engaged ti British international 400m Hurdler Chris Rawlinson, who has a pb of 48.14 and won the 2002 Commonwealth Games Title.
Jana's first Australian medal was in the 200m hurdles at the Australian under-15 in December 1996. But it was in October 1998, still aged 15-years, that Pittman started to stamp herself as one of the future stars of Australian track and field. The next two years would see her win world titles and become the fastest junior 400m hurdler in history. Competing at the NSW All Schools in October 1998, Pittman made her 400m hurdles debut, then in March 1999, Jana won the 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles at the trials for the World Youth (U18) Championships. In her first season over 400m hurdles she had clocked 57.74, and also recorded performances of 12.13 (100m), 24.17/23.95w (200m), 53.80 (400) and 14.69 (100H). Over just three days of competition, Jana raced five times at the 1999 IAAF World Youth (U18) Championships held at Bydgoszcz in Poland, where she won the 400 hurdles and placed seventh in the 400m. By Christmas 1999, Jana had dramatically slashed her bests to 56.23 (400H), 51.80 (400m) and 23.60 (200m) and had become a genuine Olympic team prospect. At the 2000 Australian Championships, Jana placed third in the 400m, then in March 2000, while on a tour of South Africa, she equalled the World Junior 400m hurdles record with a dazzling time of 55.20. In August she won the 400m hurdles at the Olympic trials. At the Olympics, Jana placed third in her heat, missing a semi-finals berth by just one position. Jana was selected in the 4x400m relay team and ran a storming third leg in the heats, clocking 51.10. The team clocked 3:24.05, breaking a 25-year-old Australian record. Less than three weeks later, in between High Schools Certificate exams, Jana contested the World Junior Championships in Chile, where she won the 400m and 400m hurdles double. Jana became the first woman to achieve this double at an IAAF/IOC (Olympics, World Champs, World Juniors or World Cup) event. The performance had only ever been achieved in regional competition by, Australia's Debbie Flintoff-King (Commonwealth Games in 1986) and Indian PT Usha (Asian Games in the 80s). In November 2000, Jana was presented the IAAF's Rising Star award. Despite a patchy 2001 summer season, Jana won her first open national title in the 400m hurdles. In April 2001, Jana relocated to the AIS and was forced to withdraw from the team for the 2001 World Championships, with plantar fascitis. In very good form in late 2001 and with just weeks remaining as a junior athlete, Jana decided to attempt to break her own World Junior 400m hurdles record, but running virtually solo, she missed the record running an impressive 55.93. A mid-season hamstring injury slowed her progress in the 2002 domestic season, but at the conclusion to the season, the Telstra A-Championships, she won her second 400m hurdles title in a super fast 55.34.
While still in her teens, started her 2002 international season with three consecutive pbs. She ran 55.08 in Darwin, then 54.94 on 30 June in Sheffield and finally on July 5, a major win at the Paris Golden League running 54.58 and beating a class field. Jana smashed her recent pb in the heats at Manchester clocking 54.14, the second fastest time in the world for 2002. In the final she won comfortably with a time of 54.40, then anchored the 4x400m relay to gold with a superb 50.38 - the third fastest relay split ever by an Australian. At the Madrid World Cup she firmly placed herself as a rising star in world competition with a third placing. Compiled an amazing series of performances in her 2003 domestic season. smashed her 100/200/300/400/400H pbs. Moved to No. 1 in the 400m hurdles on the IAAF merit rankings and ran a lifetime best of 53.76. Ran an Australian 300m best time of 36.34. At 400m Jana ran a superb 50.43 and broke Cathy Freeman's 25 race unbeaten streak. Named the 2003 Telstra Female Athlete of the Year. In July ran a pb and World leading time of 53.62. Just 2 weeks prior to the Paris World Championships the World record was broken by Russian Yuliya Pechonkina with a time of 52.34. In the leadup and through the rounds in Paris, Pittman looked solid for the silver, but sprang a surprise taking Gold at the World Championships in a pb of 53.22. She became the youngest 400m hurdles Olympic or World Champion in history (male or female). Her 2004 domestic season was cut short when she injured her right lateral qual. Was able to race shortly after the Olympic trials. Her leadup form to Athens was solid with wins in Zagreb, Rome and Crete before recording her seasonal best and 2nd fastest time ever of 53.43 in Heusden, although being defeated by USA's Sandra Glover. Disaster struck on Aug 6 at the Zurich GP when in the warm up she suffered a slight tear in her right lateral miniscus (knee). An initial MRI indicated her season was over, but a second opinion and operation in London, put her back on track just 15 days later. At the Olympics she won her heat and was 2nd in her semi, progressing smoothly to the final. Gave herself a good chance in the final with a strong first 250m, but the missed training started to catchup and she eventually finished fifth (53.92). Her seasonal best would have been good enough for bronze. After a brief domestic season, she ran a series of good 400m times of 53.44, 53.74 and 54.15 in May, June and July. However on July 20 it was announced she had a stressfracture in her back, eventually causing her withdrawal from the World Championships team. Jana returned to competition winning the Canberra A series in 54.81. She gained an exemption form the 400m hurdles at the Nationals to concentrate on the 400
More Questions & Answers...