When Linden Hall became the fastest Australian female over 1500m in history at Hayward Field, one of the most iconic arenas in athletics, it wasn’t just an historic 4 minutes. It was the culmination of years of audacious planning.
Hall’s meteoric rise of over the last few years began in the much more humbler settings of quiet cafes of South Yarra and Albert Park where she and coach Bruce Scriven would analyse and review her training.
Known for his witty remarks, a conspicuous laugh and a series of caps from around the globe, Scriven, the Geelong-based stalwart, has spent decades standing trackside, offering up a wealth of knowledge that has led to success for Hall who joined his group in mid-2015.
Scriven also bears a unique tie to former 1500m record holder Sarah Jamieson, having coached her from 2003 to 2007, leading to Commonwealth Games silver in 2006, and an Australian record in Stockholm that same season.
The interconnectedness between the three individuals began in 2010 when Jamieson coached Hall for 18 months. When Jamieson moved to Perth in 2011 for family reasons she encouraged Hall to move to Florida State University to continue her development.
On her return to Australia in 2015, Hall, with advice from Jamieson, joined Scriven’s group in Melbourne where she renown for a ferocious training intensity.
Highlighting the bond between the two, Hall messaged Jamieson immediately after her record-breaking run and described the pair’s excitement and the role the now West Australian-based mentor plays.
“Back in 2010 she really opened my eyes to the world of professional running and the experiences that come with it, and these days she’s a key part of my team. She’ll often get a call when I’m making decisions around racing or having a rough patch”.
Hall explains that Jamieson adds an “extra layer of confidence” to her racing.
Hayward Field has proved a happy hunting ground for Hall as the 26 year-old set her previous personal best at the same stadium. In the midst of a bus ride back to Portland, Hall found time to reflect on what breaking the record meant to her, and how today’s race presented itself.
“I feel like I was really able to run how I'd planned to - I wanted to put the clock out of my mind and really race, get among the front half of the race.”
Hall endured a nervous wait upon finishing, as the top five results flashed on the scoreboard instantly, there was an agonising wait for Hall’s sixth place time to appear. Seeing the fifth placed Winny Chebet’s (KEN) time of 4:00.60, Hall knew it would be close.
"PBs always feel good, and this was no exception. I felt good when we hit the bell, which is always a good sign. I had a few cues I'd worked on with our VIS sports psych around my last 300 which was really helpful today.”
Hall jokingly remarked that prior to today’s run she had long been ranked third in Australia, and third behind fellow Athletics Essendon club members, Margaret Crowley and Jamieson, a training group quip now edited.
Jamieson was ecstatic for Hall, saying “I’ve been a part of Linden’s journey for many years now, and I’ve always felt a real attachment to her. She’s such a lovely girl and I couldn’t be happier for her.”
Looking to the remainder of the season, Hall is filled with excitement, “Moving forward, I’m hoping it might open some doors to some more top quality races like today's. To run a time like this early in the northern hemisphere summer is exciting because there are so many more race opportunities to come this season still!”
With three legs of the IAAF Diamond League tour completed, Hall can realign her focus to the points on offer, as she attempts to qualify for the Diamond League final for the women’s 1500m which will be held in Brussels.
“I'd love to qualify for finals, so it’s nice to have some points on the board from today to work towards that.
“I'm also keen to run another 5k after my first real attempt at Hunter back in January, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits the schedule.
Jamieson mirrored Hall’s comments, describing the confidence that comes with being able to plan a European season in earnest, knowing a time will gain you entry to the top-tier meets.
“It’s great that Linden can really lock in and focus on running fast this year, I think her last lap today showed that she’s really strong right now, and could go even faster over 1500 or the 5k.”
Hall was overwhelmed checking her phone following today’s race, as messages of congratulations poured in and the articulate 26-year old was eager to thank her well-wishers and support group.
“There are so many people to thank. Of course Scrivo, assistant coach Dimmi, the VIS staff, NSWIS’ Ned Brophy-Williams, the whole wolfpack [Hall’s Melbourne training group] - especially those who've done all my sessions with me! [Sarah] Jamo as mentioned earlier, and everyone I've been up in Flagstaff training with. It has been a great setup whilst preparing for this weekend”.
Hall will enjoy the Prefontaine Classic’s hospitality, indulging in a brief shopping trip to the Nike headquarters, before returning to Flagstaff to continue with high-altitude training until 8 June where planning for the remainder of the European season begins for the newly crowned record-holder.
Sean Whipp for Athletics Australia