19 January 2012
Steinert at home in the Hunter
Her 200m personal best and third fastest 400m time last month have been a great start to the 2011/12 season for Pirrenee Steinert. A talented teenager sprinter in Adelaide, she relocated to Newcastle in 2008 and has gone from strength to strength.
A national junior medalist, Steinert was primarily a 200m sprinter and leading professional gift athlete. In 2006 she clocked a series of good times over 200m, but by 2008 the 23-year-old was looking at her future.
“I got to the stage where I was craving new things to continue a successful athletic career,” Steinert said.
“Although I had a previous fantastic season with my then coach Stan Miller, I started to feel stagnant.
“It just felt right to explore new options.
“I then met Tony Fairweather and came across to Newcastle to get a feel for what he and his squad had to offer. I was instantly impressed and all of me knew this was where I needed to be. A couple months later I made the big move with my partner Keith Sheehy and it has proved to be the best thing we ever did.”
But for Steinert, it took a while settle in.
“Initially when I moved, it was kind of heartbreaking and definitely a big struggle,’’ she said.
“I had a relentless foot injury which I battled for a long time. I eventually succumbed to surgery in 2008. Despite the battle with many more injuries we made my first national team in 2009 (World Championships). I then followed this with the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Although things did go well there were still challenges.
“It’s definitely tough at times living here away from family and friends but I know in order for me to reach my athletics dreams, I am in the best possible hands. This season is the first time I have had with a good off-season of training. I have had no interruption with injury for the first time in six years. I finally feel I am starting to run to my potential and together with my family and the team at Fairweather Track Squad, we are very excited about the season to come.
At the start of 2009 she had a personal best of 53.86, dating back to 2006, but by the end of the season she had run six times under 54 seconds, lowered your personal best to 53.18 and run for Australia at the Berlin World Championships.
“So much happened it that time. Tears, stress, hard work. Right navicular stress fracture were four disappointing words during this period. Although I completed maybe only half of Tony’s training program at this time due to surgery recovery and a right hamstring tear/neural problems, I was able to complete enough to get me onto the World Championships team. There had been so must frustration for me and also Tony. We knew how much training I was not doing but fortunately with Tony’s great training programs and my solid dedication and motivation, we were able to do what we could and make some major improvements.”
Then in the summer of 2010, Steinert slashed her best to 52.78 and won selection for the Delhi Commonwealth Games team.
“Another crazy, hard and frustrating year,” Steinert said.
“That year again was filled with injury, mainly consisting of a hip stress fracture that I carried for months.”
She has vivid memories of the 2010 Commonwealth Games trials.
“Nationals that year are something I will never forget. Physically and mentally I was stressed to the max. But we managed to get me to perform at the crucial time and I always will be so very proud of myself for this moment.”
Unfortunately she was injured before the Commonwealth Games, but still battled through and helped Australia to fourth place in the 4x400m relay.
``The Games experience was a battle I will never forget,’’ she said. ``For months I was unaware I had a stress fracture as no one in the medical world could give me any reason for the pain I was experiencing. At times things got so bad I thought I may have to forfeit my spot, but I could not and not knowing what the injury was, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If I was diagnosed with the stress fracture I would not have been allowed to compete at the Commonwealth Games. Somehow I made it through and ran well. I think back to this time and honestly don’t know how we did it.”
The injury cost Steinert the 2010/11 season.
“I was diagnosed with the stress fracture within days of returning from Delhi,’’ she said.
``I took three to four months off completely to heal, then slowly made my way back into form. I sacrificed last season but all for the better as it allowed me to really focus on some weaknesses of mine and build myself into a much stronger athlete. This set the ball rolling for a fantastic off season of training that I was able to endure and now has me running the fastest I have ever run, and free from injury and excuses.’’
Not surprisingly hopes are high for Steinert this season and she has set appropriate goals.
“My No 1 goal is to secure an individual position on the Olympic Games team for the 400m,” she said.
Asked if she had her career over again, would you have done anything different?
“Geez, I would love to know where I might be if I was not stricken with injury for so many years, but that was what I was handed and I think I am better equipped in so many ways for the exciting future ahead.”
She also had some advice to young athletes.
“Never give up. I truly believe that if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to get it.”
Steinert works as a remedial massage therapist, but is hoping to be financially sponsored to allow her to train fulltime. Along the journey, there have been many who have assisted her.
“Tony and Alison Fairweather… what can I say..without the two of them I would not have the successes that I have to date. My family and partner Keith have been great and without these people I would not have achieved what I have. Also Mark Coulton at Cardiff physiotherapy: those magic hands and needles have been instrumental and also my sponsors, Heritage Suzuki, Top Nutrition and New Balance.’’
Away from the track she loves spending time with her partner Keith Sheehy, my family and my two boys (cats) - I am a big animal lover. I also love the beach and fashion.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Pirrenee Steinert (courtesy of David Tarbotton)
STATISTICS – Pirrenee Steinert
Club: Macquarie Hunter
Coach: Tony Fairweather
DOB: 20 Feb 1985
Personal bests: 200m 23.61, 400m 52.78
Championships record: 2009 World Championships 4x400m heat (3:30.80), 2010 Commonwealth games 4th (3:30.29)
52.78 3 Perth 17 Apr 2010
52.81 3 Canberra 30 Jan 2010
52.98 1 Sydney 10 Dec 2011
53.03 1h2 Perth 16 Apr 2010
53.18 1 Canberra 29 Mar 2009
23.61 1.5 1 Sydney 3 Dec 2011
23.82 0.5 1r2 Adelaide 11 Nov 2006
24.02 1.4 1 Adelaide 28 Jan 2006
24.05 0.5 1r1 Adelaide 11 Nov 2006
24.13 -0.1 1 Tainan 21 May 2006