12 August 2011
Senior success for James Nipperess
He never made an Australian junior team, but few would doubt the potential of James Nipperess. The Sydney University athlete will represent Australia over 1500m this month at the Universiade in Shenzhen China.
“All I really wanted to do in my teens was try to win the Australian All Schools each year,” Nipperess said.
“Once I did that I wanted to make the Australian World Youth and Junior teams but I was never quite good enough to qualify then. That’s why making this 2011 Universiade team means so much to me.”
Was he disappointed he didn’t make World Junior and World Youth teams?
“I was very disheartened at the time. I gave 100 per cent in my training throughout high school, but in hindsight for a distance runner to make those qualifying times I wasn’t training frequently enough to accumulate the necessary volume. But I have always believed that if I was persistent enough I could be a competitive senior athlete despite not quite being among the cream of the crop of juniors.”
Nipperess started athletics a little later than most.
“I got into athletics through competing in school carnivals and making my way up through the ranks. I made it to my first NSW Championships when I was nine in cross country. I was in year 5 (1999) and I came 33rd.
“I actually didn’t do little athletics, but joined St George Athletics Club when I was 13 as my coach was the president of the club.”
The Marist College Penshurst student was first guided by three-time Olympian Albie Thomas.
“Albie coached me throughout high school and I learnt a lot from him about all areas of training. As I look back I really appreciate him not overtraining me when I was young. During high school I would usually do two repetition sessions and a long run. I was never injured under his coaching and am very thankful for everything he did for me.
“My first NSW team was the cross country team in 2003. Later that year I won the under-14 1500m at the 2003 All schools in Brisbane, and had a few other junior medals on the track throughout high school until study took priority for me in Years 11 and 12 and I trained and competed a lot less frequently. In 2008 (which was my first year of uni) I switched coaches and made somewhat of a return to the track to win the junior 3000m at the Zatopek Classic.”
While at school Nipperess participated in a variety of sports.
“I played a lot of different sports when I was younger: touch, rugby league, swimming, boxing, basketball, soccer, tennis, Oz-tag, cricket- either for my school during the season or after school.”
Nipperess really started to make a mark in 2010. Two races shone. Aged 19, he clocked 3:41.03 in the 1500m at the Sydney Track Classic and later in the year he ran 7:56.42 over 3000m. But he was still to wear the green and gold.
“The goal of representing my country drives me,” he said. “My short term goal is to make the final at the World University Championships. Long term I want to make as many Australian teams I can.”
Nipperess’ path has been gradual and he certainly looks to have a rosy future ahead. But asked if he had his time over again what would he do?
“That’s a hard question. I don’t regret choosing to spend time at my desk studying during Year 12 instead of training more often. There are only so many hours in a day and at that time in my life athletics wasn’t the main priority for me, however I was still discouraged somewhat by not reaching my own standards.”
Nipperess who is undertaking a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) at SydneyUniversity and currently studying part time, is a big supporter of other athletes. He offered some advice:
“Train smart, train hard and above all have fun with your sport.”
James Nipperess - STATISTICS
Coach: Ken Green
Club: Sydney University
4 x NSW Champion (5000m - 2009, Short Course Cross Country - 2010, 1500m – 2010 ,3000m - 2010)
Silver Medalist NSW Cross Country 2010 and 2011
2011 Australian U23 5000m Champion
2011World University Games team 1500m
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image James Nipperess competing in Beijing’s Birds’Nest Olympic stadium while on an NSWIS ETS development tour. (Courtesy of David Tarbotton)