Ella Nelson made a stunning debut at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The 23 year-old finished agonisingly close to a finals berth on sports’ biggest stage in the women’s 200m sprint. The Sutherland Shire local showed blistering speed, slingshotting off the bend and down the home straight in a personal-best time of 22.50s – the fastest 200m run by an Australian woman since Melinda Gainsford-Taylor in the 200m final at the Sydney Olympic Games. Ironically, 6 year-old Ella Nelson witnessed that historic night in Sydney 16 years earlier, planting the seed for her own Olympic ambitions.
Nelson has now emphatically announced herself as a world class contender. During the 2016 season, she made the bold climb from 38th position at the 2015 IAAF World Championships to a 9th-place finish in Rio – narrowly missing a spot in the Olympic final by just 0.01s. It was a career-defining 12 months for Australia’s newly crowned speed queen. At the end of the 2015 season, Nelson spent three months at the renowned ALTIS training facility in Phoenix, Arizona which laid the foundation for the biggest performance gains of her career. She returned home to compete at the Canberra Track Classic in February, where she bettered her previous best mark by 0.51s to record a stunning PB in 22.53s. Then in April of 2016, Ella sealed her Olympic selection by winning the 2016 National title – her third consecutive crown.
Ella Nelson is without doubt the most exciting sprint prospect in Australian athletics since the golden era of Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Cathy Freeman. Nelson has now set her sights on the 2019 Doha IAAF World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
With one of the best negative splits in the world and a long, flowing running gait likened to the great Cathy Freeman, all of a sudden Australia has a track superstar who is a genuine contender on the international stage.