Two times World Champion, four times Commonwealth Champion, in the sport of athletics, Jana Pittman swapped the track for the ice, joining the Australian Women’s bobsleigh team, to become the first women to represent Australia in both a Summer and Winter Olympic games.
Jana is now studying a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery at the Western Sydney University. She is mum to nine year old Cornelis and little sister Emily, one, and expecting number three early next year. Jana also runs her own health, fitness and motivational speaking business. She is Australia’s national cervical cancer and ‘save the box’ ambassador with future aspirations of becoming a surgeon specialising in gynaecological cancer.
Jana started her international athletics career at the age of 16 with a bang, coached by Jackie Byrnes she won her first junior world title at the World Youth Championships (U18) in 1999. The following year Jana equaled the world junior record for the 400m hurdles and achieved a rare double at the World Juniors (U20), winning both the 400m and 400m hurdles. This same year Jana was selected and competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and finished off this already stellar year winning the IAAF ‘Rising Star’ Award.
While still in her teens and coached by Craig Hilliard at the Australian Institute of Sport, Jana went on to claim her first senior title at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester winning the 400m hurdles and anchoring 4x400m relay to gold, alongside idol Cathy Freeman.
After the Commonwealth Games, Jana joined forces with Phil King, husband and coach of 1988 Olympic Champion, Debbie Flintoff-King. In early 2003, she reached one of the highlights of her career when she came head to head with former relay teammate Catherine Freeman in the 400m and became the only person in seven years to slip in front of her. She cemented her place at the forefront of the international arena a few months later at the World Championships in Paris, winning the gold and becoming the youngest 400m hurdles Olympic or World Champion in history (male or female).
In the lead up to the Athens Olympics in 2004, an injury to Jana’s knee all but sounded the abrupt and devastating end to her season. However, against all odds and a speedy operation, 15 days later she lined up in the blocks in Athens. The result at those Games fell short of the high standards Jana holds herself to and the memory of it still haunts her to this day. Jana began training with coach Chris Rawlinson in 2005. Injuries continued to slow her previously unstoppable momentum all throughout this year. However, a triumphant return to the track in March 2006 saw Jana retain her Commonwealth title in front of a home crowd at the MCG and set up an impassable lead to ensure Australia retained the 4x400m gold medal. In December that year, Jana reached a different kind of highlight giving birth to her first child, Cornelis.
By 2007, Jana was well and truly back and in fine form. Her competition campaign started with six wins out of seven starts, a great precursor to the World Champs in Osaka. Domination of the heats and semis there, saw Jana power into the final where she claimed her second world title, a mere seven months after giving birth!
The following few years were stricken with injury and personal setbacks until Astrid Radjenovic a former track and field training partner of Jana’s asked her to swap the track for the ice. Astrid had already been to two Olympics and needed the muscle and speed Jana possessed. Jana joined the Australian Bobsleigh team in late 2012. In their first race the dynamic duo finished an incredible seventh the best result for an Aussie team thus far. They challenged the World Championships in St Moritz in 2013 and then went on to wear the green and gold in Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games finishing 14th.