Pickett targets Gold Coast three-peat

LEISTON Pickett is gunning for a third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal but she's likely to have to qualify outside her best event to get there.

Pickett has won the 50m breaststroke at the past two Games but with selection criteria favouring the Olympic distance of 100m, the 26-year-old will have to wind back the clock to rediscover her best form in the two-lap race.

A London Olympian, Pickett has battled hip and groin injuries that are exacerbated by the kick motion in breaststroke.

But she heads into next week's Commonwealth Games trials at her home pool at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre injury free and hoping to seal a place on her third Games team.

"It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it and talking about it, just to get there would be an incredible achievement, I think," Pickett said.

Leiston Pickett wins Gold in the Final of the Women's 50m Breaststroke at the Tollcross Swimming Centre, Glasgow. Pic: Adam Head
Leiston Pickett wins Gold in the Final of the Women's 50m Breaststroke at the Tollcross Swimming Centre, Glasgow. Pic: Adam Head

"And to be able to defend my title would be an absolute dream come true.

"I've been posting some good times in training.

"I feel like and old duck, so to get in there and do a half-decent time when I'm getting a bit older - they certainly are a lot more rare, so it's good."

Pickett won her first gold medal at just 18 in Delhi, beating her childhood hero Leisel Jones to the wall to win.

She backed that up in Glasgow four years ago, beating Jamaica's former world shortcourse champion Alia Atkinson to the wall in the one-lap dash.

Swimming Australia's selection policy will allow for 50m winners to be added to the team - but they are not automatic nominations, ranking only third in priority behind winners of Olympic events and potential relay swimmers.

So Pickett's aim is firmly on the 100m, the event in which she won Olympic selection in 20102.

Leiston Pickett stands on top of the dais after winning gold in the final of the Women's 50m Breaststroke at the Tollcross Swimming Centre, Glasgow in 2014. Pic: Adam Head
Leiston Pickett stands on top of the dais after winning gold in the final of the Women's 50m Breaststroke at the Tollcross Swimming Centre, Glasgow in 2014. Pic: Adam Head

"The criteria is working off the 100m. They did announce (a lower priority) for the 50s but for myself, I'm targeting the 100m," she said.

"One of my goals as a swimmer has been to swim for Australia in a relay, so hopefully I can do that (on the Gold Coast)."

Pickett's career has been "plagued" by injury but she's hoping for a clear run into the Games.

"It's certainly a downfall that I do have (with) my hip and groin," she said.

"It's about just trying to stay injury free now, so it's looking promising.

"My training regimen has changed quite a bit, I'm doing a lot less sessions and less work.

"I've got a lot more going on outside of the pool, which is quite exciting for me.

"I'm studying and working. My hard work in my studies is starting to pay off and it's the next chapter in my career and it's good to be able to transition that now while I'm still swimming."

The national titles will be held at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre from February 28-March 3. Tickets are available from Ticketek.



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