Carley reaches a new high striking gold in Fiji
SHE couldn't have wished for a better 16th birthday present.
Representing her country, Carley Stieler leapt a near personal best 1.72m to win a gold medal in the under-18 high jump.
Unleashing such a jump at her first international competition was a surprise for the Blackstone-based athlete, being just 1cm below her best.
Impressing at the recent Melanesian Games in Fiji against older competitors provided a welcome boost.
"I was doing pretty good at training,'' Carley said.
"I was just hoping to jump 1.65 at least. I wasn't expecting any higher than 1.65.
"It helped with my confidence and I know I can jump 1.72 now.''
St Peter Claver College year 11 student Carley was one of the promising teenage athletes chosen in the Australian team for the Games.
While her older sister Ashlee has focused on multiple events, 183cm tall Carley favours the high jump.
Carley won a medal at the national titles when she was 13.
"I'll just see where things take me,'' Carley said.
Since starting at Ipswich Little Athletics, the sisters have helped each other while training at the Ipswich and District Athletics Club and working in recent years with Bailey Pashley at the Lockyer District Athletics Club and doing recent training in Brisbane.
"We do our running sessions together and we always try and push each other,'' Ashlee said.
"We always encourage each other.''
As for Carley's specialist event, the high jump, Ashlee laughed her approval.
"She helps me on the technique side of that one,'' Ashlee said.