Brimming with confidence after an impressive win over Sally Pearson over 150m last month, Riley Day is one of the young faces of Australian junior sprinting and she will arrive in Canberra for the Australian All Schools Championships having bettered her personal best across 100m and 200m this past month.
The 16-year-old Queenslander has her sights set on Commonwealth Youth Games in 2018, but the question on everybody’s lips is will she capture the sprint double to become the ‘Jack Hale’ of All Schools 2016?
Hale, the then fast-paced 16-year-old from Hobart, was the talk of the town after the Australian All Schools Championships in 2014 thanks to a stunning wind-assisted 10.13 (w: +3.4) to win the boy’s under 18 100m crown from Rohan Browning (NSW) and Trae Williams (Qld).
He went on to take victory in the 200m the following day, before a sprint double at the Australian Schools Knockout Championships, to round out three big days of competition in Adelaide.
That’s for us to speculate on, for Day, her focus is on simply running as fast as she can in Canberra this weekend.
“To be honest I just want to run as fast as I can in the conditions that are presented. A personal best would be amazing, I’ve worked pretty hard in the lead up to this event so a result like that would be nice,” Day said.
“I am hoping to compete at the Commonwealth Youth Games next year, too, and another qualifier for that would also be a good result. It would be such an honour to represent and run for Australia.”
Day’s victory over Pearson, who was returning from injury, saw her clinch the Gold Coast Victory Athletics Club record from the Olympic champion herself. She also ran 7.45 to place second behind a stronger Pearson in the shorter 60m, bettering her personal best in that event in the process.
“It was my first opportunity to run against Sally It was great to be out there with her, but I tried to stay focused on myself,” Day said.
“Australian sprinters are my inspirations, with Melissa Breen and Cathy Freeman amongst the top two. Melissa came to a Little Athletics under 15 camp and she has been such a great support to me since then.”
The challenge for Day, who has been coached by Donna Thomas since she was nine, will come from Kristie Edwards (NSW), Maisie Stevens (NSW) and Lateisha Willis (Vic), with the quintet all having participated in Athletics Australia’s Under 17 Development Squad this year.
Edwards was the silver medallist in the 100m in the girl’s under 17 event at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships earlier this year, with Day 4th placed in the same race ahead of Stevens (5th) and Willis (6th).
Determined to improve on a result that saw her narrowly miss a spot on the podium at Perth 2016, Day has worked tirelessly across the winter to ready for this summer of athletics.
“I loved the experience of camp in Canberra. It allowed me to get to know all the girls better. We don’t see each other much and the chance to come together is fun and working with the Paul Pearce (National Junior Coach – Sprints) was great. I learnt a lot from this experience.” Day added.
“I was a little bit disappointed with my result in Perth. I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did as I had been injured throughout the season. I’ve worked hard to improve since then and I am happy with my preparation for next weekend.”
The Australian All Schools Championships will be held at the Australian Institute of Sport Track and Field Centre on 2-4 December.
For more information on the Championships, including the event timetable, entry lists and technical rules, please click here.
To purchase tickets to the Australian All Schools Championships, please click here.