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Olympics is the main aim for record-breaking sprinter Zoe Hobbs


New Zealand sprinter Zoe Hobbs

Zoe Hobbs is focused on Olympic qualification after a fast start to the season.

Sprinter Zoe Hobbs has run sub-11 seconds for the 100 metres twice in eight days but isn’t expecting to do it for a third time at the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Waitakere on Thursday.

Hobbs clocked a 10.97 second run to win the Sydney Track Classic in an Oceania record time on Saturday. The week before the 25-year-old had also run under the 11-second mark to claim the national title in Wellington.

After injuring her hamstring for the first time in her career in the build up to the season Hobbs had surprised herself and coach James Mortimer with her early season form.

The injury proved to have a silver lining as Hobbs saw the signs of what she was capable of following a stint of modified training.

Running under 11 seconds had always been a goal this season – it moved her into world-class discussions – but she wasn’t prepared for when it finally happened for the first time in windy Wellington.

Training times had been promising, Hobbs said, but race day was different.

“It’s just a different game when it comes to racing and I tend to elevate when it counts.

“I knew I was in good shape but I didn’t know I was in sub-11 shape and I think sometimes you have to actually see it on the times to actually believe you’re in that shape.”

Mortimer, a former New Zealand sprinter, isn’t known for showing emotion but Hobbs said he couldn’t hide how he felt when she ran inside 11 seconds for the first time.

“He was visibly very very happy after that achievement and he was in sort of in disbelief as well because I was actually tossing up to do the 200m two days later at the national champs but he still couldn’t believe what happened in the 100m so [said] I think you just need to play it safe and not do the 200m and just look after yourself in the lead in to Sydney which looking back now was very good advice.”

Week on week Hobbs had been getting faster and faster but she said the conditions could be against her recording another personal best in front of friends and family at the Sir Graeme Douglas International.

“There’s not a time I am targeting to run to be honest it’s quite late at night, they’ve put it at 8.20pm which is very hard to run fast that late at night, it’s going to be cold and also coming off the back of two very intensive weekends it’s a pretty big ask to go out and run a PB a third time so that’s not what I’m targeting, I’m targeting running a good technical race.”

The field for the 100m is stacked with local talent in Brooke Somerfield and an Australian trio of Torrie Lewis, Bree Masters and Ella Connolly who have crossed the Tasman to challenge Hobbs on her home track.

Hobbs welcomes the trans-Tasman rivals who have not been to race in Auckland since pre-Covid.

“Any time that I am running against the Aussies they provide great competition and they really allow me to elevate my performance.”

Hobbs set goals last year that she said hadn’t changed despite a surprising start to the season.

“My biggest priority is to try and qualify for the [2024] Olympics and doing the standard when the qualification period opens in July. Unfortunately the times I’ve done now don’t qualify yet, I have to do them again. I would like to do the automatic standard for that so that I don’t have the pressure or the stress of worrying about the rankings and that will lead into the world champs which is also the big priority of this year.”

After missing out on the Tokyo Olympics due to New Zealand Olympic Committee policy Hobbs said she was proud to see how far she had come.

“I feel like what happened three years ago has no impact on what’s happening right now, I’m in a very different position now as an athlete my performance is a lot different as well. I’m not one to dwell on the past but it is pretty cool to look back and see how far I’ve come in my athlete journey and know that I’ve been through that hardship, there have been challenges that I’ve had to overcome to now be in this position of running sub-11 and hopefully able to replicate it when I need to.”

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