Portia Bing's rollercoaster athletics journey now has her hurdling towards Qatar. The former New Zealand heptathlete took up the 400m hurdles only a year ago.

Now she's broken the national record twice and is heading to the world championships in Doha in October.

"It's a massive weight off my shoulders. Preparing for something you're not even certain about is always really hard, so now I can have a plan for the next few months." Bing said.

Yet somehow, despite the now-reduced weight, the Aucklander wasn't feeling the pressure.


"World champs was always a bit of a dream. I always said it would've been cool to go to another one [after competing as a heptathlete in 2015], but you still have to go out and enjoy the sport. So I've just been having the approach of every time I broke a national record, or set a personal best or win, that I just try and enjoy that moment."

The 25-year-old's enjoying success within the moment. She broke Rebecca Wardell's New Zealand record in February in Sydney with a run of 56.04s before then going under the required 56s mark at last weekend's Australian Championships, also in Sydney, to secure her boarding pass to Doha.

There are all sorts of reasons beyond just enjoyment that Bing credits for her consistent improvement. Her now ongoing rivalry with 11-time Australian champion Lauren Wells motivates her during races.

"Every time I've raced Lauren this season, I've done a personal best. She just seems to bring out the best in me."

Bing's also spent time with New Zealand 100m sprinter Zoe Hobbs and her coach James Mortimer.

"I think I'm second behind Zoe in 100m at the moment, which is crazy. I've been super privileged to spend time with Morty [Mortimer] and I've learnt about starting and just pure speed. It means that now when it comes down to the last 40m, I've got that base speed that I can run people down or hold them off."

She's also back with her 89-year-old coach, the legendary Russ Hoggard.

"It's awesome. We're pretty much just best mates who were born in different eras. He's always trying to change things up. He's lived through so many athletes and seen so many things, he's just got so much to offer."


Bing is now focusing on herself, at least for the time being.

"The goal is to sit down and plan my life out. It's going to be nice to be able to do that now," she laughs. "We've got the Oceania Championships in June, though, and that will be the first chance to gain points towards [the] Tokyo [Olympics], so that's a big focus."

The encouraging thing for New Zealand sport fans is that Bing thinks she can go even faster than her personal best of 55.86s. By comparison, Great Britain's Eilidh Doyle placed eighth in the final of the 2017 world championships with 55.71s.

"I didn't know that," Bing admits. "But the race in Sydney was one of the messier races I've had all season. One of the hard things is I still have the same stride rhythm as when I was running 57s, so it means I'm getting a lot closer to the hurdles and am having to swap legs a lot of the time. Normally, I have a flow in mind, but with the current pattern, sometimes that goes out the window."

But she's excited by the challenge, and the comfort that she's breaking records without being as technically sound as she'd like.

"If I can get better, particularly with those last three hurdles, I'd like to think I can be in the low 55s before the world champs."