Zoe Hobbs is tearing up the track like no other Kiwi woman before her.
The Auckland-based sprinter is in stunning form and finally cracked the Holy Grail qualification time of 11.15s after controversially missing out on the Japan Olympic Games last year.
Her brilliant run in Hastings last weekend smashed the New Zealand all-comers record set by an Australian in the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
Most importantly, hitting the magical 11.15s mark means she automatically qualifies for this year's world indoor championships in Belgrade, and the world outdoor championships in Oregon, so long as the selectors rubber stamp her inclusion in the Kiwi team.
That time also puts her on track to race in the mid-year Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
This is old fashioned do-it-yourself stuff from Hobbs, who was raised on a farm in the Taranaki town of Stratford.
The 24-year-old is way down the high-performance funding order and works almost a full week as a nutritionist while also developing a new business.
Hobbs chats to NZME about the race which brought her to tears, her hopes of helping lead a Kiwi sprinting revolution, a few pre-race secrets, the magic of Europe, a Commonwealth Games conundrum and even the topic she really doesn't want to chat about.
How did you feel after hitting the world championship/Commonwealth Games qualification mark?
I cried after the race … I don't think I've done that since I was 10, winning my first medal. It was a mix of emotions … relief, ecstasy. I couldn't believe I'd finally hit the mark I had targeted for so long.
Is qualification assured?
I'm automatically qualified for the two worlds - although it is still up to the selectors to name me on the team - but two B times are an absolute minimum for the Commonwealth Games. That means I have to do 11.15s again, or an A standard 11.1s. So that is my next short-term goal.
Does that mean it is harder to qualify for the Commonwealth Games than the world championships and Olympic Games? Isn't that a bit strange?
Um … I don't know how to answer that question. There are a lot of complexities.
How does automatic qualification change your planning?
It has definitely made my life a lot easier. It takes the pressure off trying to squeeze a qualifier in before the world indoors and outdoors. But I don't think a whole lot will change. We'll still build towards peaking for the March nationals and the world indoors is a couple of weeks after that.
Your coach James Mortimer says you are very professional in every aspect of your sport.
I'm flattered he's said that. I've done the sport since I was a kid and had my eyes set on these goals, to break the New Zealand record and qualify for major championships. I didn't get here by just stepping on the track and having an epiphany … I've been consistently dropping my time year by year and chipping away.
Does this reflect your overall approach to life?
It's not just track and field for me. I've got a life away from the track being a nutritionist, and trying to start up an athletes' nutrition business. I'm in the business development stages with a team of others which is unpaid time, plus doing 30 hours a week of paid nutrition work on the side, although that might have to change now. I pride myself in having a balanced life.
Your social media posts after missing out on Olympic selection spread far and wide last year.
It was about expressing the emotions I was dealing with at the time. I do think the media has latched onto it and blown it out or proportion a little bit … twisted what that intention behind the post was.
That whole period wasn't easy for me to deal with … but I don't want to be known as the girl who missed out on the Olympics because that's not who I am.
I do find it bothersome that it keeps getting brought in to my recent success.
A lot of people are assuming I'm doing it go get back at people. But I was always going to gun for the next one and carry on.
I've moved on from that grief. I'd like to think I'm relatively resilient, learn from my past, get better and draw from those experiences.
Genetics… People assume they must play a big part when it comes to speed.
This question comes up quite a lot and I've never really known how to answer it. My parents (Dorothy and Grant) were both sporty and dad says mum was quite fast in high school. I think she is being quite humble because she doesn't like to claim the speed came from her, but maybe it did. They prioritised team sports in their childhood and teens. Speed and an ability to jump high were always my strengths but genetics can only take you so far.
Did you have a childhood hero?
I didn't really. I looked up to athletes who had been to Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
Did you ever have another career in mind?
I did a lot of design and arty papers at high school because I thought maybe design or architecture, but I hit Year 13 and realised it wasn't for me. Then I went with sport and recreation but realised that wasn't quite right. Through doing that degree and moving to Auckland I gradually found my passion and switched to a nutrition degree.
Sprinting isn't a traditional Kiwi forte. Is it difficult being a trailblazer?
It's tricky. I've never known any different. I'd love to see sprinting become a target (High Performance funded) event.
A lot of what I do is self-funded. Athletics New Zealand gets a budget and throwers and distance running have typically been the target funded events, while the money trickles down to others.
But we have Eddie (Osei-Nketia) and Tiaan (Welpton) and depth in the girls as well.
I don't know if the funding will change - it depends on how we perform on the world stage. Until that point … it's a tricky topic but never say never. People love watching the 100 metres.
What did you learn competing in Europe last year?
If anything stood out, it was the level of athletics over there. I didn't progress to finals in one or two races which is different to what I experience in New Zealand. It was cool to put myself out there, learn from other sprinters I met like Australian Hana Basic.
And I bumped into a coach from Berlin, Ralph Mouchabahani, who saw the potential in me.
A lot of self doubt set in after I missed out on the Olympics. Morty (coach James Mortimer) has always seen my potential but to get it from a high-performance coach over there as well was great.
He came to a gym session and saw I was very powerful but wasn't necessarily translating that power into the track.
He tried to help me clean up some technique - Morty has worked on these things but sometimes it is nice to get other cues from other coaches.
So that Olympic business really knocked your confidence.
A little … I had equalled the New Zealand record so how much more do I need to do?
But I tuned into the people who believed in me. Having reinforcement from the people around me and bouncing back, seeing the success now, is pretty cool.
It was surreal running 11.15s. It didn't exceed my expectations but it is epic to do it.
You race over 60 metres at the world indoor championships - that's an unusual distance for a Kiwi sprinter.
I have raced it a couple of times outdoors but never indoors because the American and European seasons clash with our domestic season. We don't have the facilities to race it here.
My starts are a strength so that excites me about the potential of racing in a 60m. It will be crucial to stay patient and smooth through the transition, and not tense up.
Another big difference is the crash mats at the end of the race so I will need to familiarise myself with that beforehand for sure (laugh).
Do sprinters try to psyche each other out?
The psychological factor is a huge part of preparing for the race but I've never been a victim of it, and you probably don't see it in New Zealand.
I was quite overwhelmed at the 2019 world champs, watching what the world champions were doing, feeling like they are so much better than you. This even extended to picking the lane to warm up in. I didn't feel I belonged and moved aside for them whereas I should have gone there feeling I was equal to them, that I had the right to warm up in that lane.
Normally before a race I just tune into my needs, put my head down, zone out, put the music in.
What do you listen to pre-race? What are your magical tunes?
Drum and bass, pop, anything that's buzzy, poppy, going to excite me, nothing slow. I've got one running playlist and particular songs for moments before a race. It's almost an association; this is my race song. It gets me up even more - I don't know if other athletes do that.
'Here With You' by Lost Frequencies and Netsky, and 'Solar System' by Sub Focus are two of the songs.
What are your major goals?
I'm only 24 and have already hit 11.15s. It will be interesting to see if I can keep dropping that time. I'm pretty excited to see where we can end up.