8 April 2013
Ralph is 400m threat
In the leadup to the national championships this week we interview a few interesting NSW hopes. We start with 21-year-old Joshua Ralph who some may consider a late bloomer, but there is more to his recent emergence in the 400 metres.
ANSW: Congratulations on your great season. Can you tell us about your sporting career before athletics?
Josh: Thanks! I started playing soccer when I was seven, and I played for five years. I then moved to AFL for a couple of years, before committing a bit more to running. I had a bit of a running breakthrough in Year 6 when I suddenly made nationals cross country, having only ever finished top 30 at regional in previous years. I did cross country through until about Year 9 when I began to make some improvements on the track.
ANSW: How did you get involved in athletics? When was that?
Josh: I started Little Athletics at North Rocks/Carlingford when I was nine, mainly because I enjoyed running at the school carnivals. I then worked at it until under-15s when I saw another bit of a breakthrough at the Little As State Champs.
ANSW: Can you plot us your progression over the past few years. You didn?t qualify for any of the major junior teams (World Youth, World Juniors)
Josh: Until recent years I had been a cross country runner. Also in 2012 I completed my first winter of training since 2005 due to many injuries and some bad illness. I first made nationals athletics as a 15-year-old and my best result was a bronze medal in the U15 2000m steeplechase. I raced 800m and 1500m through until Year 12, making it to two age national finals in the 800m. After tearing three ligaments in my right ankle in 2009, I spent the rest of the year recovering, then went on exchange to France for the whole of 2010, doing no running. I only decided to start running again around July/August 2011, and due to my lack of aerobic training, I decided to run a few 400m races. Having a cross country background, I was surprised to get out a few good races over the 400m, so I decided to work at it and see where it got me to, which ended up being in the Open National final in April 2012.
ANSW: This season you have progressed to a new level. What do you owe this too?
Josh: There have been several contributing factors. First of all I got through a full 12 months of training without injury (until December). Keeping a regular routine of training is so beneficial and it means you can keep a level head on race week. My coach Phil Moore has also really pushed me this season and his knowledge of athlete development is extensive. I think the final factor would be that I started doing some basic gym work in September which has greatly increased my strength and power, especially over the first 100m of the race. Coming from cross country, I need to do a lot more work in the gym over the coming years.
ANSW: With a strong 4x400m relay tradition, these teams provide a stepping stone for athletes aspiring to individual representation.
Josh: I couldn't agree more. It also surrounds newbies like myself with experienced athletes who can give some very sound advice for the future. Hopefully with an 800m background, I will be able to run a good relay leg if I get the chance to have a run in one.
ANSW: What are your goals at the Australian Championships?
Josh: My main goal is to get the World University Games qualifier of 46.76, and get a top three finish. The top three get automatic selection in the Australian Team.
ANSW: What are your goals in the next few years?
Josh: Of course, the long term goal is the Rio Olympics, but they are a while away. I would love to make the Commonwealth Games team next year and the World Championships team in 2015. With my distance background, there is always potential to move to 800m (an issue I am often asked about). However I plan to see what I can achieve over 400m over the coming years first, before I consider a move like that.
ANSW: Outside of training, what do you do? Study, work, interests?
Josh: I am at Sydney University studying to become a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sport Science), which I am finding really interesting. I also play a number of instruments, and I love outdoor activities. I also really enjoy travelling and discovering new places.
Josh Ralph - Statistics
DOB: 27 Oct 1991
Club: Sydney Uni
Coach: Phil Moore
Didn't run for 2.5 years.
(start of season) 48.96
(end of season) 47.12
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Josh Ralph (courtesy of David Tarbotton)