Glen Yarham has qualified for the Australian cross country team to contest the under-20 world championships in Spain.
Glen Yarham has qualified for the Australian cross country team to contest the under-20 world championships in Spain. David Nielsen

Yarham called up for Australia

GLEN Yarham may not actually like pain ... but he welcomes it.

When he feels it, he knows his rivals must as well, and he backs himself to handle it better than them.

It is that approach that has taken him from handy distance runner to Australian representative.

The Collingwood Park 18-year-old finished third in the national under-20 cross country world championship qualifying race in Canberra last Sunday.

Last Monday, he received the call from Athletics Australia to say he was in the Australian squad to head to Punta Umbria, Spain, for the world under-20 cross country championships mid-March.

“I was pretty happy about it when the 03 digit came up on the phone and I knew it was a Melbourne number,” the former St Edmund’s College student said.

“They took the top four last year so my aim was to get a place.”

All went to plan, but that is not to say it was easy.

“It was bloody hard,” was what Yarham said to his dad after completing the 8km course.

“My plan is to sit and kick if I’m in the mix.

“If not, just run hard to finish off, which is what I did.”

Yarham believes his chosen sport is tougher than most sports because of the mental barrier he has to push himself through each time he races.

“Compared to other sports, it is one of the most mentally challenging,” he said.

“When you hit the wall, you have to run through it or give up.

“That’s what makes you a champion or not.

“Most runners have the same ability.

“It comes down to the mental state of mind.”

Asked the secret to continually being able to push through “the wall”, Yarham explains: “Knowing I can push through this and get something out of it, the reward,” he said.

“In a race, if I’m next to someone else, I’m saying ‘he has to be just as tired as me’ so if I can go the same pace for the next 50m, hopefully he’ll be shattered and fall off.”

For most of his high school years, Yarham enjoyed his athletics without giving it his full attention.

“I used to do cross country in grades eight, nine and 10,” he said.

“In grade 12, I had a bit of success in the steeplechase so I concentrated a bit on the track.

“Then last year I did well at the national cross country championships and decided I might as well have a crack.”

It is only in the past two years Yarham has put everything into his running and the improvement in his results is a testament to his commitment.

In 2008 he was 11th in the state cross country titles for his age and didn’t make the nationals

Last year he took out the Queensland under-20 steeplechase and cross country short course titles, won a national under-20 steeplechase silver medal and was third for his age group at the national under-20 cross country titles.

Steeplechase and cross country running and training complement each other, as Australian Pete Nowle has proven, representing Australia twice at senior cross country world championships and in steeplechase at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Yarham is not setting his sights that high just yet, instead aiming for the World University Cross Country Ttitles next year, World University Games in 2013 and Commonwealth Games steeplechase in 2014.

Yarham’s recent improvement has also coincided with coming under the guidance of former Australian distance running team coach Pat Clohessy.

“In the last 12 months, he has really picked up my game,” Yarham said.

The sports science student also owes a debt of gratitude to his family and friends, as well as Vic Pascoe and the Ipswich Athletics Association, for supporting him and providing an enjoyable competitive environment to develop in.

“I recommend Ipswich Athletics Association to any young athlete,” Yarham said.

“It is a really family-oriented community club with a good vibe, which is not what you always get in Brisbane.”

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