Sub 10 Second Tuesday - Tennessee’s Ellen Wortham
June 7, 2011 by David Pickett
Just a junior, Tennessee’s Ellen Wortham has emerged as one of the top 400 meter hurdlers in the country this season. After missing the finals last year at the NCAA’s, Wortham is back and in great position to win the NCAA title this year.
At the East preliminary, Wortham recorded her eighth consecutive victory. She is currently ranked eighth in the world, with a career best time of 55.70.
PreRaceJitters caught up with Ellen for the Pre-NCAA installment of Sub 10 Second Tuesday.
PreRaceJitters: At the East preliminary, you recorded your eighth consecutive victory in the 400 meter hurdles. Rainy and windy weather in Bloomington, not the best conditions for hurdling. However you still manage to post a solid time of 56.95, but more importantly you punched your ticket to the NCAA’s. What was the plan going in?
Ellen Wortham: My plan going in mainly was to qualify for NCAA’s with a smooth race, but also stay focused and not relax too much.
PreRaceJitters: You’re headed back to the NCAA’s for the second-straight year. What does it mean to you to return to nationals?
Ellen Wortham: It is a great opportunity for me to race against the fastest collegiate 400 hurdlers in the country and really get a chance to compete to the best of my ability.
PreRaceJitters: Having competed in nationals last year, you know what to expect heading in to competition. Do you feel more mature after last year’s experience?
Ellen Wortham: I definitely feel more prepared at this point from experience in racing at nationals, and I am excited to go out and run my best.
PreRaceJitters: You’ve run some fast times this season, 55.70 being the fastest, which you ran at the SEC Championships. Could you briefly recap that race?
Ellen Wortham: It was a very tough race, because I had to stay relaxed in the beginning when my main competitor, Cassandra Tate, went out really fast the first 200 meters. I had to trust myself to be able to finish strong and run my race and not get too emotional. Sticking to my race plan paid off, and I was able to catch her in the last few meters.
PreRaceJitters:As the meet favorite, do you feel any pressure, if any to perform at a high level to what fans are accustomed to seeing you perform at?
Ellen Wortham: I feel confident and relaxed at this point. Going in last year I was going to have to run my best time to make it into finals. This year I know I will be able to do that without stressing myself. I don’t feel too much pressure from fans or anyone else. I know I will be able to get done what I need to get done if I trust myself.
PreRaceJitters:Running in college your force to compete in a lot of meets. Talk about your health going into the NCAA’s. How are you feeling mentally and physically?
Ellen Wortham: At this point in my career I am accustomed to long seasons, thankfully. I am healthy physically and relaxed mentally. I am excited and ready to go.
PreRaceJitters:What have you been doing in your training to prepare for NCAA’s?
Ellen Wortham: At this point in the season we are just focusing on fine-tuning and keeping the body fresh and maintained for competition. We have been doing lots of recovery and preventative treatments getting ready for the NCAA’s.
PreRaceJitters:What’s life like outside of track?
Ellen Wortham: I have been able to spend more time with my family now that school is out, because I am from the Knoxville area. Most of my time is spent just taking it easy and relaxing from school, and I’m very happy to do so.
PreRaceJitters: Do you get pre-race jitters? If so, how do you overcome them?
Ellen Wortham: Sometimes I get a little anxious earlier in the day if I have to wait a long time to race. I like to listen to relaxing music to help me from getting hyped up too early before my race.
PreRaceJitters: What are you looking to accomplish at NCAA’s?
Ellen Wortham: I am going in hoping to win. More importantly I want to focus on bettering my own race, because I know that doing that will most help what I need to get accomplished. I am also excited to help out our 4×4 and 4×1 relays.
PreRaceJitters: Thank you for your time and best wishes on the season.
David Pickett is a Contributing Editor at PreRaceJitters.com writing about the exploits of collegiate and elite track and field.
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