Having raised the bar by qualifying fastest for the 1500m final at last year’s world athletics championships, Zoe Buckman is happy to admit she’s targeting a podium finish at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Coach Nic Bideau believes she has all the tools.
Speed, resilience, discipline? Check, check, check.
But Bideau also notes that such is the depth of women’s middle-distance running at Commonwealth level that the 25-year-old could feasibly run better than she did at the 2013 world titles and still come away from Glasgow empty-handed.
“Finishing seventh at the worlds means you’re within range of the medals,” said Bideau.
“That’s what she’s thinking.
“She’s not going to just go out there and make up the numbers. She wants to go for the maximum possible result.
“It’s a tough competition in this event at the Commonwealth Games – there are the Canadians, there’s English runners, Kenyans, Scottish and maybe South Africans who can run well in the 1500.
“Whereas last year I reckon Zoe was pretty pleased to get into the final and had some hopes of getting a medal, she would be more disappointed if she came seventh this time.”
The first task for Buckman will be guaranteeing her place in the Australian team on Saturday at the Games trials in Melbourne.
She confirmed her favouritism by qualifying fastest in Friday’s heats in four minutes 20.47 seconds.
But the other three Australians to have run under the B qualifying standard this year – Kaila McKnight, Melissa Duncan and Bridey Delaney – also advanced to the final and only a maximum of three of them can contest the event in Glasgow.
“I’m hoping that everyone is tough on Saturday because I enjoy a challenge,” said Buckman, who won the national 1500m title in 2011 and 2013.
“It just makes it more of an interesting race if everyone has a go and they’re all competing for the No.1 position.”
Buckman set her PB of 4:04.82 in the semi-finals at the Moscow world titles and is confident of bringing that mark down further this year.
Her stand-out showing at the world championships has her in demand for Diamond League meet organisers, with the prestigious Prefontaine Classic in Oregon in June already inked into Buckman’s racing schedule.
“I went to uni there and I’d really love to win that race,” she said.
“And I’d really like to medal in the 1500 in Glasgow.
“I just want to have a really strong lead-up, get lots of training in, stay healthy and build my race experience.”