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This Friday 1095 of the best high school athletes in the nation will converge on Cairns for the 2018 Australian All Schools Championships. The program will feature Paralympians, Commonwealth Games representatives and most of the team members of the highly successful Youth Olympic Games squad.
The athletes maybe at different stages of their pathway but all have potential to wear the green and gold. Commonwealth Games 800m medallist Luke Mathews placed fourth as an under-16 in 2010, but would win in 2012, while Dani Stevens was unbeatable through the ages.
The annual competition held over two-and-a-half days, conducts a full athletics program of events in three age divisions, under-14/16/18. In recent years para-athletics events have been added for age groups under-16 & 18.
Internationals, Tamsin Colley and Samuel Walker head the para-athletics entries. Colley, who ran in the 200m at the Rio Paralympics, lines up in the under-18 100m, 200m, and 800m. Walker, who at just 15-years made his senior debut for Australia at the Commonwealth Games has a big program in the sprints, shot and long jump.
Another para-athlete to watch is Jackson Hamilton who is following in the footsteps of Jaryd Clifford and will compete in the able-bodied under-16 discus along with some para events. Jackson has broken national para records on 28 occasions and improved the discus record by an extraordinary 50%.
Spread across the program the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) stars will be in action, showing their class and international experience. All the silver medallists Sophie White (100m hurdles), Oscar Miers (high jump), Josh Cowley (long jump) and Jaylah Hancock-Cameron (1500m/XC) will compete.
Sophie White will no doubt be pursuing the Australian under-18 100m hurdles record of 13.14 she jointly owns with Sally Pearson. However, to claim the meet record she will have to run even quicker to take down Pearson’s wind assisted mark of 12.98 set 15-years-ago.
“I always have a goal to run a clean race and run a personal best,” said White. “Achieving the Australian under-18 record would be amazing and would mean that I had a new legal personal best but I will have to see what happens in the race and the result will take care of itself.”
Her result at the Youth Olympic Games was outstanding.
“I was extremely happy with my performance at the YOG. Although the wind wasn’t legal, running 13.01 still ticked a huge goal off for me, and I know now what it feels like to run that time. The competition at YOG was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, being in a race as competitive as our final and being in a race as fast as it was is a great feeling.”
Brisbane’s Josh Cowley was involved in an amazing two-part long jump competition, eventually taking the silver. He took a moment to reflect on the breakthrough performance.
“I was obviously really happy to come away with the silver medal, but being 1cm off the gold definitely made the result a little bitter sweet. Despite there being a lot of PB jumps there both myself and my coach Stacey Taurima believe there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
The under-18 long jump meet record of 7.69m is under threat from Cowley who leapt 7.82m in Buenos Aires.
“With all schools in Cairns being my last comp of the year it would be a great way to end the season with a PB performance.”
After a long year of competition, Oscar Miers has taken a well-earned athletics break since the YOG.
“I had a two week break from training after Buenos Aires and I have had to focus on school work and finishing Year 11 so training has not been as intense as leading into Australian Champs (March), Oceania Games (April) and YOG (October).
However, he still has ambitious goals this summer.
“My coach told me today I have to fill in the gap between 2.15m and 2.22m and consistently and confidently jump the 2.18, 2.20’s but I have other ideas for the summer. I would like to jump 2.30m at All Schools and break the under-18 Australian record but not sure how that will go with little training preparation and little rest since September 2017. Perhaps this can be my summer goal!”
Who would doubt that Miers could continue to progress, after his outstanding year.
“I went into the Youth Olympics with no expectations but to make the most of the valuable experience. Reflecting on my performance, I was scared to try 2.22m but pleased when I made it and it’s the biggest success of my career so far.”
Jaylah Hancock-Cameron is the fourth YOG silver medallist on the line in Cairns and she is looking in great shape ahead of her under-18 1500m, following a solid 4:22.68 on Saturday in Sydney.
Competition commences at 3.00pm Friday December 7 at Barlow Park Athletics Centre, Cairns Qld.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia