By STEVE SPINKS
BEING an elite athlete can be likened to being a motor mechanic.
You're always listening to your body to make sure it is running in tune, craning your hearing for the smallest misfire ... tinkering.
An elite athlete has to be able to push the body to excruciating lengths, knowing when to stop just short of injury.
Welcome to Kerrie Taurima's world.
The Kyogle-born, Canberra-based long jumper has just won her second national title in a row, but she's done so with an injury that has kept her from the training track for most of the season.
"Last year it was hamstring injuries," lamented Taurima.
"This year it's the knee.
"I had surgery on it back in 2002, it's an old netball injury that has come back to haunt me.
"I've been really trying to concentrate on my plyometric (explosive strength training) and bounding training, but I haven't been able to do the work I wanted to."
Taurima, who is married to Sydney Olympic long jump silver medallist Jai Taurima, won her second national title in Sydney with a leap of 6.59m.
"It's like being on a knife-edge," she said about her injured knee.
"You want to be pushing as hard as you can, but you don't want to push over the line and start getting injuries.
"You have to tread a fine line, but training six days a week does take its toll."
After her win at the national titles, Taurima is now the favourite to snare a place in Australia's track and field team which is announced on May 31 for the world championships in Finland later this year.
But her first aim is to jump a B qualifying distance of 6.60m.
If she makes this distance her chances of being picked multiply.
However, if Taurima jumps an A qualifying distance of 6.75m she will be selected automatically.
She is targeting a couple of Japanese Grand Prix events in early May to jump the qualifying distances.
"It's really exciting," Taurima said.
"This could be my first major senior team.
"I've made the world student team twice, but this is really in the big time.
"It's so exciting, especially with the Commonwealth Games just around the corner."
At 26, Taurima believes her best long jumping years are ahead of her.
But until then she'll be listening to her body, just to make sure she's jumping in tune.