31 July 2017
Storey writes another chapter
The spectacular rise of half-miler Lora Storey over the last few years took a dramatic turn last week when she was selected in the 800m for the IAAF World Championships. David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall report for Athletics NSW
While busy preparing for the World University Games at the end of August, Lora Storey (Randwick Botany) received an unexpected callup for London.
“I was blown away when I got my phone call from Craig Hilliard (Athletics Australia’s Head Coach). I was actually driving to work when he called and I had to pull over because I just started bawling my eyes out,” recalled Storey. The specialist 400m hurdler, ran her first 800m in November 2015 – just 20 months ago, but now she will compete on the world stage.
“Three years ago the thought of making a world champs team was almost laughable and doing it in the 800m had not even crossed my mind,” she said. It sort-of sums up one of the most astonishing progressions we have witnessed in athletics.
Four years ago she moved from Perth to Sydney to give athletics a “red hot go’. After a short season she achieved a PB of 62.95 in the 400m hurdles and was run out in the heats at the national championships. In 2014 under coach, Penny Gillies she embarked on a full winter of training. After that full season 2014/15 she had improved to a best 400m hurdles time of 59.15.
After a second winter of training in 2015 she made dramatic improvement finished the season with bests of 54.57 (400m) and 57.44 (400m hurdles). But it was 800m which was most surprising. She made her debut in November in 2015 running 2:09, but within six months she had run 2:01.67 and was knocking on the door of Olympic selection. The improvement was: 2:09 November 2015, 2:05 December, 2:03.22 January, 2:02.68 March, 2:01.67 May. Her year included five sub-2:03 times. She chased the Olympic qualifier of 2:01.50 in the USA, Canada and on the Gold Coast from May to July 2016. But alas she remained just 0.17 short.
She embarked on the 2017 season in pursuit of qualification for the World Championships, but the event was on the rise domestically. She compiled a tremendous season, suffering just one defeat to Keely Small, who broke the national U18 800m record. She also won the national title. On the clock, she ran a season best of 2:01.90, which in late July was sufficient to receive a roll down offer to compete at the IAAF World Championships.
“The 800 is just so competitive globally that I just thought there was no chance of me getting a roll down,” said Storey.
STATISTICS: LORA STOREY
Club: Randwick Botany
PBs: 800m 2:01.67 (Stanford USA, 1 May 2016), 400m 53.71 (Sydney AUS, 11 Feb 2017), 400m hurdles 57.44 (Sydney AUS, 28 Feb 2016)
Coach: Penny Gillies
Occupation/student: School administrator and student
Image: Lora Storey (Getty Images)