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Bound for the Youth Olympics Games

Bound for the Youth Olympics Games

Author: Athletics NSW Administrator/Wednesday, 13 August 2014/Categories: News

13 August 2014


Bound for the Youth Olympics Games


Today 11 track and field NSW athletes depart for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games to be held in Nanjing China. The former capital for China, Nanjing is located two hours west of Shanghai.


The Australia Youth Olympic Games team will contest 23 of the 28 sports across over nine days of competition between 16-24 August.


The inaugural games were held in 2010 in Singapore when 639 athletes from 169 countries competed in the track and field competition. Three NSW emerging stars from that team included: Nick Hough (gold 110m hurdles), Brandon Starc (silver high jump) and Michelle Jenneke (silver 100m hurdles). The three would compete together again at the 2012 world juniors and 2014 Commonwealth games.


A legacy from the three NSW athletes continues with the 2014 team. Hough attended The King’s School, along with 2014 team member Nick Andrews, also a hurdler . Combined they dominate the school’s and GPS hurdle records. Andrews and another 2014 team member, Rachel Pace train with Michelle Jenneke, under coach Mick Zisti. Finally, 2014 team triple jumper Tay-Leih Clark, trains with 2010 medallist Brandon Starc, with coaches Alex Stewart and Nicole Boegman-Stewart.


Hough recalled his Youth Olympic experience.

"The 2010 Youth Olympic Games was the perfect introduction to international competition for me. Having the opportunity to interact with some of the greatest Olympic legends of the last few decades, mixed with the experience of racing world class competitors, was invaluable. For me, the Youth Olympics is still the best international competition I have been a part of.

“Both Nick Andrews and I were students together at The King's School, and so to see him develop so promisingly in my pet event is fantastic. He's running very similar times to what I was running when I won the Youth Olympics four years ago, so hopefully he can pull out something special and push for a medal as well."


NSW athletes selected in the Australian team – IOC Youth Olympic Games

Nick Andrews – 110m hurdles

Matt Rees – Javelin

Sam Geddes – 100m

Jessica Thornton – 400m

Alina Tape – 800m

Emily Augustine – 1500m

Rosie May Davidson – 2000m steeplechase

Rachel Pace – 100m hurdles

Tay-Leih Clark – triple jump

Grace Robinson – shot put

Alex Hulley  - hammer



In June, the athletes spoke about their selection:


Nick Andrews feels honoured to selected in the team.

I feel like it is an immense privilege to be a part of the Australian Youth Olympic team,” he said. “Being part of this team will not only give me the opportunity to compete against the best in the world, but it will allow me to continue my journey to one day compete for Australia at a senior level. Running at the Youth Olympic Games on the world stage will be exciting but at the same time quite surreal. I can’t wait to go!”


Rachel Pace,16, has adapted very quickly to a new hurdles distance. In December 2013 she won the Australian All Schools 90m hurdles in a national record time of 12.35. From January 2014 she had graduated to the 100m hurdles and it did not take her long to excel, winning the national under 18 title in a time of 13.49 which remains the fastest time in the world this year on early season rankings.

“The transition from 90m hurdles to 100m hurdles went a lot better than I thought it would,” she said. “I had tried to go over 100m hurdles at training at the end of a session and could barely manage to get over two or three. Once the All Schools nationals were over, I had just under two months until NSW juniors to perfect the 100m hurdles. The transition went quite well, better then what my coach expected.”


Pace is excited about what lies ahead for her in Nanjing.

“Getting selected was the best thing to happen in my athletics career so far. I was over the moon and so happy that I have the opportunity to represent Australia for my first international competition.  Competing at an international competition will be quite daunting and very confronting. Running against elite athletes from other countries will be such an amazing experience and I am very nervous but very excited to run.”


Amazingly three athletes from the Sutherland Shire have won selection in the team. Sprinter Sam Geddes (Illawong), shot putter Grace Robinson (St George) and jumper Tay-Leih Clark (Illawong) will travel together to China.

Robinson, only 15, and the current national under-16 shot put record holder stepped up to the under-18 shot and trial for the Youth Olympic Games team. In a terrific battle with Queensland’s Luisa Sekona, Robinson won by just 4cm with 15.91m.


Triple jumper Clark made significant progress last summer adding more than a metre to her personal best. In December she raised the NSW under-16 triple jump record with a leap of 12.05m, before taking the national under-18 title in March with 12.59m.

“To be representing my country is a feeling I cannot even put into words,’’ Clark said.

“It has been great getting many quick tips from Brandon Starc from his experience competing in the first ever Youth Olympic Games, also having Alex Stewart (Clark’s personal coach) as the Australian coach is just the icing on the cake.” Starc placed second in Singapore with a breakthrough personal best of 2.19m in the high jump.

 “I’m looking forward to a new and amazing experience in Nanjing, And with some amazing athletes also competing the adrenalin levels should be higher than ever,” Clark said.


Geddes will be joined in Nanjing by Eastern Suburbs sprinter Jess Thornton (South Sydney), her training partner in Michael Dooley’s squad, one of the nation’s leading sprint squads. In December at the Australian All Schools Championships, they swept the competition, clocking the two fastest 100m times at the meet, with Thornton also smashing the 19-year-old NSW under-16 400m record.

“I feel so incredibly honoured to put on the green and gold,” Geddes said. “Hopefully this is one of many times I can run for Australia. Words can't do justice as to how excited I am to be running on the world stage. It's going to be such a surreal experience, and I honestly cannot wait to give it my best shot. “

Thornton was equally as excited.

“I just can’t wait for it. I already have a countdown happening and I get to represent Australia so that makes it even better. But I’m also really nervous, so mixed emotions are everywhere.”


Hunter region javelin thrower Matt Rees will join his Sydney-based training partner, Grace Robinson in the team. Rees, a most dedicated athlete travels 2.5 hours fortnightly to train in Sydney with his coach Ray Russell. He earned selection courtesy of a throw of 70.85m in the national under-18 championships, a competition he won by more than 8m. It is currently the seventh best under-18 throw in the world this year.

I'm extremely grateful to be selected in the team knowing that only a few will ever get the chance, and I can't wait until the competition,’’ he said. ``Knowing that I'll be competing against the best in the world for my age is just incredible.”


UTS Norths’ middle distance star Emily Augustine will contest the 1500m in Nanjing after winning the Games’ trial in March in a big personal best of 4:30.03.

``I am honoured to be selected to represent Australia, and am so excited to be competing against the best youth in the world,’’ she said. ``The experience of traveling to China with my fellow teammates will be amazing.’’:)

Another endurance athlete to earn selection is Wollongong’s Rosie May Davidson (IBS). In March she won a very close national under-18 2000m steeplechase by just 0.13 seconds clocking 6:50.59 and putting her into selection contention. Another country athlete selected is Alina Tape (NAM), from the North Coast town of Bowraville. She will contest the 800 metres. In a tactical race, she clocked 2:10.61 to win the Australian under-18 title but travels to Nanjing with an impressive personal best of 2:07.85.

David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW

Image:  collage of the 11 NSW athletes (image courtesy of David Tarbotton)




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