The 2km time trial at Fremantle should maybe be called the ‘Kiara Bowers Cup’ with the elite midfielder once against taking out the run as Freo’s AFL Women’s players returned to pre-season training.

But Bowers win wasn’t as comfortable as many would expect, with Kara Antonio finishing just a handful of seconds behind the winner and recording a personal best time in her fifth AFLW pre-season.

The Freo captain was quick to pay credit for Bowers for setting the bar as Freo’s star players pushed themselves to stack the top five, with Gabby O’Sullivan in third, Ebony Antonio in fourth and Gemma Houghton in fifth.

“Turbo (Bowers) is in a league of her own, she’s a fantastic athlete and always sets the pace,” Antonio said. 

“To get (close to) her, I’m really happy with that. We’ve done a lot of the pre-season together and she’s pushed me to my limits and it’s probably half the reason I was able to run so well tonight.

“We’ve done a lot of work and it’s nice to get the reward and the likes of Gabby running really well, Ebony and Gemma were up there. Some of the new girls also impressed. We’re really happy with the group at the moment.”

It’s been a long off-season for Fremantle with the cancelled 2020 season looming large in the back of their minds.

Antonio said that there was no shortage of motivation in the group. 

“(Pre-season) never gets easier but you just get better and fitter and stronger and (AFLW high performance manager) Kate Starre has obviously given us a mountain of work to do,” Antonio said.

“All the hard work has been done in terms of fitness and now we get to pick up the footys and get into the fun stuff, which we all are really looking forward to and it’s why we play footy. 

“There’s a fire in the belly. We’re really focused on this next block of training and setting our sights for season 2021. 

“We’re really excited and there’s definitely some unfinished business.”

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