Cassie's shock selection earns trip to Games
WHEN the Ipswich region's latest Commonwealth Games representative leaps into the unknown, she'll have a tower of support on her side.
That's because Cassie Purdon has a strong country upbringing, terrific family backing and loyal coaches
However, Purdon admits to being shocked at jumping into her first Australian Commonwealth Games team.
"It was pretty much a complete surprise,'' Purdon, 21, said.
Although she had finished a creditable fifth representing Australia at the 2015 Junior World Championships, the former Ipswich and District and Lockyer District Athletic club achiever didn't expect this so soon.
"I thought my season was over and yes, I was planning on having a couple of holidays,'' said Purdon who grew up at Lanefield, near Rosewood.
"And that (Games selection) happened.''
Purdon secured automatic qualification on the Australian team after jumping 1.86m on her third attempt at last weekend's Commonwealth Games trials at Carrara.
She competed for experience, unsure what to expect rather than winning overall.
She was looking to catch up with her sister Jessicca and her brother-in-law, who live near Longreach, after the trials.
However, Purdon's sporting world was quickly turned upside down for the better.
Having competed at five previous national championships, the former Faith Lutheran College student won the high jump title for the first time, most importantly in open competition.
"I don't think I ever won juniors. I was always second or third,'' she said.
Purdon shared how she approached the challenge.
"That was a very different competition . . . so I went a little bit more calmer than I usually would,'' she said. "It turned out in my favour.''
Studying psychology online through Central Queensland University helped Purdon understand herself and what was needed in elite competition.
However, Purdon was most appreciative of her parents Ruth and John, long-time coach Bailey Pashley and her latest mentor Gary Bourne.
Pashley was Purdon's first major coach at the Ipswich and District Athletic Club.
When Pashley formed a new Lockyer District club, Purdon followed and continued her steady improvement.
"He's the one that got me on the track so I owe him a whole lot,'' Purdon said of Pashley, who won an Order of Australia award for his services to athletics.
Purdon joined Queensland Academy of Sport mentor Bourne three years ago.
She now travels regularly from her family home at Lanefield to train six mornings a week.
"It is a much more professional environment,'' the 176cm jumper said of regular sessions at the QAS.
"Training with other Olympic and Commonwealth athletes and everything. It's a whole different ball game.''
The benefits followed. "Everything needs a little bit of fine-tuning,'' she said with a laugh.
Along with her family and coaching network, Purdon also thanked the "whole QAS support crew'' for backing her.
Now competing for the Mayne Harriers Athletic Club in Brisbane, Purdon will always be grateful for the foundation she built at Bill Paterson Oval and with Pashley at his country training venue.
Despite the added travel demands based at the QAS, the former Mount Marrow State School student has made it all work.
After juggling two jobs at one stage, she is now working at Goodna Freedom Fuels to help pay her bills.
Purdon is competing in the Commonwealth Games high jump qualifiers on April 12, hoping to secure a spot in the final on April 14.
However, she's preparing for the Gold Coast mission with everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Her ever supportive parents John and Ruth have athletic backgrounds and Cassie's sister Jessicca is planning to make the trip from Longreach to cheer her on.
Ruth is rostered to work at the Games shooting venue at Belmont the same day Cassie is due to compete.
However, after Cassie's tremendous achievement, there may be some swift shift-swapping to allow the proud mum to join the family cheer squad.