Australia’s number one ranked female walker Kelly Ruddick may have been up all night with a sick child but that wasn’t going to get in the way of gold in the 5000 metres walk race on the opening day of competition at the 2014 Victorian Country Championships in her home town of Ballarat last weekend.
“It’s great to win the country title, it’s great to win any major race, especially being in Ballarat,” Ruddick said.
“I have not been to bed yet, last night I worked to midnight and then one of my children had to go to hospital so I have not hit the bed at all, so that race was pretty difficult today, and I’m going to work right now.”
After completing a strong training block with new coach Brent Vallance the focus for Ruddick turns to this weekend’s Australian 20km Race Walking Championships in Hobart.
“Hobart is a qualifier for the world cup this May in China and there will be a strong international field,” Ruddick said.
“I’ve been aiming towards the 20km more so than the 5km, I found that a little bit difficult and I’m at the end of a big training block so I’m a bit tired.”
The proud Ballarat Harriers walker wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of victory on her home track.
“It was (all about the win), it was a hard hit out, I just love to win here (Ballarat) and I’m really proud to be a Harrier and do it for them and Ballarat as well,” said Ruddick.
With no walk event at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow all roads lead to Rio 2016 for Ruddick who is determined to live out a lifelong ambition of representing Australia at an Olympic Games.
“I’ve actually done an Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard time, sadly I’m ranked number one in the Commonwealth and this is the first time ever there is no walk in the Commonwealth Games,” Ruddick said.
“For me it’s a bit of a bummer, but, I’m training a lot more serious than I ever have so if I keep it up I’ll be getting faster each time and aiming more towards the 20km rather than track meets which are a bit shorter, so Rio is in the mix, I’m definitely aiming for that.”
Ruddick along with stepping up her training program will have to juggle an increased travel schedule, motherhood and work commitments.
“I’ve been invited to race in Mexico in February, so there is a lot of travel coming up which I’m excited about, it’s great to be a part of the Australian team, its only taken me 40 years, I’m doing it all in reverse, I’ve had the kids and now I’ve decided I’m going to have a go,” Ruddick said.
Ruddick is enjoying working with three-time Olympic medalist Jared Tallent’s former coach Vallance and believes he is the person to take her walking to a new level.
“I know I’m in great hands with him and I’m really confident I can improve a lot and cut a few minutes across the 20km’s and be very competitive.”
“I travel to Melbourne, he (Vallance) was based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra but has now moved to Melbourne for a different role.”
“I head down there twice a week and train with Olympian Chris Erickson and Jesse Osborne who are fantastic.”
There is every chance Ruddick could return to running since overcoming shin splints.
“I actually wanted to be a marathon runner but due to injury I stumbled into walking and thought I can do this.”
“I started with the Harriers at 15 and ran for 20 years and got an injury and someone suggested walking and the injury went away.”
“I might go to marathons; my body is feeling stronger, and more use to increasing the kilometres,” Ruddick said.
Click here for more information on the 2014 Australian 20km Race Walking Championships taking place this Sunday 2 February at Constitution Dock in Hobart.