Australian Jana Rawlinson has appointed Craig Hilliard as coach for the second time in her successful career.
Five weeks after confirming her separation from husband and coach Chris Rawlinson, the two-time 400m hurdles world champion has officially linked with Hilliard in the lead-up to August’s track and field World Championships in Berlin and possible beyond.
Following a frustrating year on the sidelines with a litany of injuries that forced her to miss the Beijing Olympics, a fully-fit Rawlinson will return to competition at Bydgoszcz, Poland on June 10.
The 26-year-old has also entered high-profile grand prix meets in Monaco, London, Rome and Lausanne in July in the lead-up to the Berlin world championships.
Chris Rawlinson masterminded his wife’s gold medal triumphs at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the 2007 world championships in Osaka.
But Jana acknowledged on Wednesday that the coach-athlete relationship became increasingly untenable as the pair battled unsuccessfully to save their marriage of three years.
"The hard part in this respect from a coaching perspective is that Chris’s programs were fantastic, he was an incredibly good coach," said Rawlinson.
"There was always this conflict of `I know what he’s doing is the right thing I need to do’ but we just weren’t coping with the way it was presented on the track.
"If he had an athlete that wasn’t similar to me, that didn’t display emotions, he’d have coached them to break world records.
"But we just weren’t compatible in our understanding of each other.
"That’s not a reflection on his coaching whatsoever, it’s just a reflection on the fact that we were married and any married couple would have difficulties.
"I’ve always said it’s hard, I’ve never said to anyone that we had it perfect and I think we did a great job for the three years we were together."
Having overcome foot, Achilles tendon, calf, hamstring and back complaints, Rawlinson said she was now fitter than at the same stage in 2007 when she went on to win a second world title just eight months after giving birth to her son Cornelis.
But – publicly at least – she is keeping a lid on expectations, saying she would be happy with a top five finish in Berlin, especially as the women’s 400m hurdles is a much stronger event worldwide than in 2007.
The main focus is still winning an elusive Olympic gold medal in London in 2012.
"I’ve always loved my athletics, I just sort of put it on the backburner while I was trying to work on my marriage," said Rawlinson.
"Now that Chris and I are happily separated, we’re very amicable, we talk every day so that’s not an issue and I’ve got more time to focus on running well.
"And if I do run well then that provides for my family.
"I’ve got Cor to look after so I can’t just sit around and cry – no good comes of that."
The two-time world champion joins Hilliard’s star-studded stable in Canberra which also includes 400m hurdlers Tristan Thomas and Lauren Boden, 50km walk world champion Nathan Deakes and long jumper John Thornell.
Hilliard is looking forward to his second stint with Rawlinson, having coached her for 15 months leading up to victory at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
"For other athletes who watch Jana train and see what she does and her work ethic, it’s easy for them to sit down and say `wow, you can see why she’s world champion," said Hilliard.
"But while it’s her strength it can also be her weakness because of that obsessive nature she has of wanting to be the best, with 100 per cent effort all the time she’s not satisfied with slightly lesser efforts.
"One thing she has learnt better but can still improve in and be satisfied with that is that you can’t have every session at 100 per cent."