HANNAH Duynhoven is using one of the world's most popular combat sports to build strength for sprinting.
The Warrnambool-raised athlete, who will contest two events at the Warrnambool Gift on Saturday, trained at Rudy's Boxing to maintain fitness through winter.
Duynhoven said the training helped to sharpen body and mind.
"I loved it as I felt you had concentrate quite a bit. It felt like it trained my brain as much as my body," she told The Standard.
(Boxing) really sharpened my movement as you're translating power through your arms and it's pretty constant.- Hannah Duynhoven
"It really sharpened my movement as you're translating power through your arms and it's pretty constant.
"You don't get much time off to rest, Rudy pushed us pretty hard."
The 21-year-old will contest races over 70 metres and 120 metres. The latter is the prestigious women's gift, which yields prizemoney of $2500. Scheduling mismatches have prevented Duynhoven from running at the Warrnambool Gift in the past, but the Latrobe University student is grateful for the chance to run this time out.
"It's an odd thing for me to say, coming from Warrnambool," she laughed.
"It's usually in November and it's generally come at a bad time for me with work and uni, that time is a bit hard for me.
"I'm really looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd with the DPS squad and people around.
"It's really good to be able to open the season here and shake off a few cobwebs.
"It's been a long, interesting year and hopefully some family and friends can come along."
Duynhoven said she had prepared well but would carry minimal pressure into the races.
She said improving her burst out of the blocks was a key aim at the Victorian Athletics League event.
"One of the things for me is always working on that strength, being a taller athlete," Duynhoven said.
"I sometimes struggle out of the blocks compared to the shorter, more compact athletes. Getting that explosive start is something I'll keep working on.
"It'll be about getting my fitness base and race fitness back after the time off sport due to COVID-19. Nothing gets fitness up like racing.
"I'll hopefully be able to get some consistency going forward."
Duynhoven is also eyeing key races at Geelong and Ballarat.
"The Geelong meeting is always good as they have it down at the waterfront," she said.
"Ballarat is another one of my favourites as I've made the final there. I'd love to have a good crack at them." The women's gift is scheduled for 3.28pm while the men's will jump at 3.40pm.
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