Reigning discus World Champion DANI SAMUELS is one of the superstars who will compete at the inaugural Pirtek Athletics All Stars Meet in Sydney on September 15. In this candid Q & A Samuels, a Little As graduate, said she hoped the meet featuring world sprint champion USAIN BOLT would inspire Generation Next.
Q: What does competing in the Competitive Edge All Stars mean to you as someone who has already competed at the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and now the Diamond League?
A: It’s a great event. Very exciting, indeed. It’s all about allowing Australia’s athletes the chance to get out there before the Commonwealth Games. Having Usain Bolt at the track is tremendous because Australians haven’t seen him live before. To have this staged just before the Commonwealth Games in India is tremendous.
Q. The Beijing Olympic discus champion, Stephanie Trafton Brown of America, will also compete in the All Stars event to challenge you. It’s a rare chance for Australia to host an event involving an Olympic Champion against the World Champion. What does that duel mean for your Commonwealth Games preparation?
A. Competing in the Diamond League this year against quality opponents has allowed me to become more consistent. I know last year before the World Championships my competing against Stephanie twice – and being successful against her – gave me the utmost of confidence. To compete against her a month before the Commonwealth Games should be really good and hopefully I should be able to throw far and get a lot of confidence out of it.
Q. The aim of the All Stars event is to help inspire the next generation of athletes. What can you do to help fulfil that aim?
A. I’m from Sydney’s western suburbs and I’d like to think what I’ve achieved will allow people to realise if you set your mind to something - and work hard to achieve it - then you can do it. I hope people will come out to see the stars compete, like Fabrice Lapierre in the long jump. The athletes are all local people and it’ll be great to have the crowd get behind us ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
Q. You met up with Usain Bolt recently in Europe. He’s a special guest at the All Stars meet.
A. It was great to meet Usain; he seemed very nice and was extremely talkative. He said he was looking forward to coming to Australia. He said a lot of his friends had been here and had told him it was an awesome country, so he’s excited. He is also looking forward to meeting the footy players who’ll compete in the Gatorade Bolt, the 100m race to find the fastest footy player in the nation. He’s seen vision of rugby league players Jarryd Hayne and Greg Inglis and thinks they’re amazing athletes. I think the Australian public will love having him here.
Q: You leave next week to compete in Europe again – in Belgium and then Croatia – how is that coming along as you’ve done plenty of travelling to compete around the world over the last few months.
A: This year has been a learning experience because it is the first year of the Diamond League and the format has allowed me to compete against the top competitors every few weeks, so that has been an incredible experience. Travelling to Europe is not a short flight, either! We found a good base in Cologne last year and that has helped a lot. Athletics Australia has also provided great medical and physiotherapy facilities throughout the European summer as well. I next go to Croatia for the Continental Cup which was a meet I enjoyed competing in four year ago. It is a tremendous meet for me to finish off the European season.
Tickets for the Pirtek Athletics All Stars meet on Wednesday 15 September are available from:
Athletics NSW (Grandstand), click here