It has been nothing short of a big year for Athletics Australia’s junior high performance program and that trend looks set to continue into 2015.
Culminating domestically with the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in March, the bumper five-day program in Sydney (NSW) ensured that more athletes than ever achieved a qualifying mark to be considered for selection to compete at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
These amazing results led to the selection of an Australian Spark team of 65. This number is the biggest on record, eclipsing both the Sydney-hosted event in 1996 and the previous record for the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona (ESP).
The competing team of 61 (four withdrew) in Eugene (USA) delivered two medals and a further 14 top-eight performances to place 10th overall from the almost 200 competing nations, with twenty athletes improving their career best in the championship cauldron.
Success continued at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (CHN) in September.
Comprising 20 athletes, the athletics squad delivered six individual medals to the green and gold tally, with 60% of athletes placing in the top-eight and 50% of the team improving on their personal best.
“The results of Australian junior athletes at international competitions this year highlights the depth and breadth of talent that we are currently experiencing in this country. Bigger teams than ever delivering results equal to or better than our best on record are a fantastic sign for the future and a testament to the hard work of the athletes, and their personal coaches,” Sara Mulkearns, Athletics Australia Junior High Performance Manager, said.
Again returning to the domestic scene in recent weeks, Athletics Australia is excited to announce an Under 19 Talent Squad of 58 for 2015.
Complete details on the selected athletes can be found here.
This level of involvement is the biggest on record, with an increase of 19 athletes on last year despite matrix standards for consideration remaining at a rate that ranks them in the top-20 athletes worldwide.
The squad came together for the first time in Canberra (ACT) last week, with athletes and their personal coaches partaking in a four-day camp led by Athletics Australia National Junior Coaches.
Held concurrently alongside a program designed to further engage the talented group of personal coaches, activities undertaken were aimed at improving the daily training environment of the athlete and the mindset of the athlete as they progress through the junior ranks and into what will hopefully become senior representation for Australia in the future.
“The Under 19 Talent Squad camp hosted with the support of the Australian Institute of Sport last week in Canberra was a huge undertaking with near on 150 people attending the busy four-day program. The 58 selected athletes attended with their hard-working personal coaches, and we also welcomed our 11 National Junior Coaches and a suite of presenters across areas including biomechanics, skill acquisition and sports psychology,” Mulkearns said.
“It was also fantastic to once again welcome a knowledgeable group of mentors through our relationship with Athletics International. These former Australian representatives lead discussion forums and provided the squad with some important insight on the rigours becoming a world-class athlete. We thank them for their time and their financial support.”
Selected athletes will come together in their specific event groups later this year, with National Junior Coaches set to host Summer camps for athletes and their personal coaches across Australia.
For more information on Athletics Australia’s junior high performance program, please click here.
To view some great imagery of Athletics Australia’s Under 19 Talent Squad, please click here and here.