MELBOURNE - Jana Pittman is favoured to successfully defend her Commonwealth 400m hurdles title next year following the withdrawal of former Games champion Andrea Blackett.

The Barbadian, who won the 400m hurdles gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, says she needs to take a "mental break" from the sport so she can be at her best for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Blackett, who turns 30 next month, was sixth in the world championships final in Helsinki this year.

Her personal best of 53.56 seconds was set back in 1999, although she was still the fourth fastest Commonwealth runner in the world this year behind only Australian Pittman, Shevon Stoddart of Jamaica and Surita Febbraio of Jamaica.