Africans to be hardest rivals

IT is not lost on Eloise Wellings, the Sutherland Shire middle distance running champion, that she will be desperately trying to ‘‘hurt’’ African women next month, running against them at the London Olympics.

For years she’s been more used to helping them — African women, men and their children — and helping others to help change their uncertain futures.

Some of her Olympic rivals will have been affected by poverty, war and other hardships.

Some may even know the work Wellings and her team are doing to help them. In particular, those victims of the long and bitter conflict in and around northern Uganda.

‘‘It has been a passion of mine, ever since I first went over to see for myself with Julius Achon [triple Olympian],’’ said Wellings, after one of her final training runs in Sutherland Shire.

‘‘Now, it is good to see we are making a difference, with medicine, clinics and schooling for the young.’’

After London she will head her Love Mercy Foundation team (of about 20 Australians) to Uganda to celebrate the opening of a medical clinic her foundation has helped by raising money.

But now, the shire runner is out of Africa, and about to make her most important foray in her running career.

Born in New York but raised in Grays Point, she’s been measured up for three Olympic uniforms before — first at 16. But injuries and form lapses now have London as her first calling.

Not to visit the Queen, but to

do her best against some of

Her Majesty’s other subjects.

‘‘The African runners will be my hardest rivals again,’’ said Wellings, who just missed out on a 5000-metre medal against them at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, also finishing sixth in the 10-kilometre run.

‘‘Now, at the Olympics, there will be more of them: maybe three Kenyans, three Ethiopians, an Eritrian, a Ugandan, a Turkish-born African ... and who knows how many others.

‘‘It is the Olympics, after all. They all want to be part of it.’’

Day one of the athletics sees Wellings race the 10km. Day five is the heats of the 5km, and Wellings is hopeful of gaining selection for that, too.

Along the way, Wellings has clocked up thousands of kilometres in training and racing.

In the heat of Uganda, Australia, Asia and in altitude training in the US, running up snow-covered mountains.

‘‘In a way, I’m hoping it will also be a bit cold come the 10,000 metres,’’ she said.

‘‘The African women won’t like that but I won’t mind at all.’’

ELOISE WELLINGS

BEST INTERNATIONAL RESULTS

World Youth Championships: 1999 [Bydgoszcz, Poland] — 3000m 4th (9min 05.05sec)

World University Games: 2003 [Daegu, KOR] — 5000m 1st (15:47.19)

World Cup: 2006 Athens — 3000m 4th (8:41.78)

Commonwealth Games: 2006 [Melbourne] — 5000m 4th (15:00.69); 2010 [New Delhi] — 5000m 5th (16:11.97), 10,000m 6th (33:36.76).

PERSONAL BESTS

5000m: 14.54.11 — Zurich, September 2006

10,000m 1:41.31 — Stanford, May 2011

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