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Bahamian Williams-Darling ready to run fast

15 March 2006

Bahamian World and Olympic 400 metres champion Tonique Williams-Darling said that after slow start to her season's build up, she is now in shape to race consistently at the upcoming Commonwealth Games, which starts in Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday.

Williams-Darling, who became the first Bahamian woman to win an Olympic individual gold medal, arrived in Melbourne on Sunday with the ambition of breaking 50-seconds in the one-lap event.

"Right now I feel like I'm in 49 (seconds) shape for the final and 50 for the rounds," Williams-Darling told the press in Melbourne.

"I'm the type of person who likes to take her time getting into shape."

"I was a little bit worried about the mileage that I've gained over the last few years competing so hard and trying to get ready so quickly. The challenge and the temptation for another medal got me out to Melbourne and I'm happy because I feel like I'm in 49-shape."

"I feel pretty confident that I'm matching it with anyone and I'm excited about what's happening in the world right now," she added.

The 30-year-old Bahamian dismissed a strong challenge from Jamaican-born American sprinter Sanya Richard last season to win the world title in Helsinki, Finland, and she now "wants to extend her time at the top".

"I think I have to get as many (titles) as possible now because I'm not as young as some of the others out there," the Bahamian sprint queen said.

"Right now I'm hot, I'm healthy, I'm training well so this is the time to go after whatever title there is out there. I'm not an athlete that needs 10, 15 races just to have a good run. I have one chance and that's when I have to do it."

With the IAAF World indoor championships completed, it is now safe to say that Williams-Darling's main challengers will be her fellow Islanders.

Fellow countrywoman Christine Amertil, the recently crowned World Indoor silver medallist, and Jamaican World Indoor finallist Novlene Williams have proven that they are in title contention form and should pose strong challenges to the world number two ranked Bahamian.

Others expected to pile on the pressure for the crown are: Guyana's defending champion Aliann Pompey, who made a surprise early exit in the 400m in Moscow, St Kitts and Nevis' Tiandra Ponteen and Jamaicans Sandie Richards and Lorraine Fenton, who is a three-time World Championships medallist and 2000 Sydney Olympics silver medal winner.

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