Ipswich duo's sterling, silver efforts
TWO Ipswich athletes have produced remarkable individual efforts to take silver in their respective heptathlon events at the recent Queensland Combined Championships at the UQ Athletics Centre.
Kiara Condon, 13, and Kirra Csurhes, 17, both had to overcome significant hurdles - literally and figuratively - in what was the first time on the State Championships stage for both young athletes.
Competing in the Under-15 Heptathlon, Kiara held a narrow one-point lead over third place with two events - javelin and the 800m - remaining.
Knowing the 800m was not her strongest discipline, Kiara amazingly threw a personal best in the javelin to solidify her hold on second place heading into the run.
Ipswich and District Athletic Club president Vic Pascoe, who coaches the 13-year-old in her hurdles and running events, said for Kiara to throw a PB nearing the end of a gruelling two days of competition spoke volumes of her competitiveness.
"It's not unheard of, but it is rare to do a PB on that second day," Pascoe said.
"It's a strenuous time for the athletes, with four events on the first day and three on the next day. You can see it in their faces; everything is flat-out, be it running or jumping.
"(Kiara) would have been absolutely pumped to have done a PB in her sixth event. I think knowing how close it was after that fifth event, it gave her that bit more motivation to come out and say, 'Okay yes, I'll throw a good one'."
Being her first time competing in the seven-event discipline at the State Championships, Pascoe admitted a second place finish was not something he or Kiara had really considered.
"She was aiming for a podium finish, but to get the silver was a bit of a surprise I think," he said.
"It was something more than I think even she suspected to get."
Pascoe labelled it "an extraordinary performance", but not entirely unexpected considering the dedication Kiara shows in her training with Pascoe and her other coaches - Tori Langton, Theresa Stolberg, and Mark Sills.
"She's one of those girls who puts in everything she has at every training session, whether it's with me for hurdles and sprints or in the high jump and throws," Pascoe said.
"For her to be so committed, (silver) is a well-deserved reward for what she's done."
Kiara's cumulative points total of 3506 was enough to qualify her for the Australian Combined Events Championships in Melbourne beginning March 4.
Potentially joining Kiara in Melbourne will be clubmate Kirra, who at 17 was one of the youngest competitors in the u20 heptathlon.
Although Kirra did not turn in a personal best performance, her silver medal was just as impressive considering the route she took to get there.
After winning the opening hurdles event, the 17-year-old injured her back on her second attempt in the high jump.
"She cleared the high jump and was leading the event, but when she went to run in for her third jump the pain was too great," Pascoe said.
"When she came back from that event, we told her to just do her best for one attempt in the next events. One jump in the long jump, one throw in the javelin... so that's what she did."
Despite the pain, Kirra never once considered withdrawing such was her desire to compete.
The 'one attempt' tactic would not work for the final 800m event, and thus Kirra was forced to run through the pain. Despite running "well outsider her best time", it was still enough to secure silver.
"It showed true grit for her to do what she did," he said.
"When she hurt herself in the high jump, we had to change our tactics to just getting through the rest of the events doing the minimum requirements.
"To run her 800m, she would have been in extreme pain but still she pushed through. Even doing that, she still managed to come away with a silver medal which I think is a great credit to her determination."
Pascoe said the youngster's "amazing effort" should be an inspiration to other young athletes.
"The smile on her face when getting onto the podium said it all," the coach said. "It was worth the effort in doing her best and inspiring others.
"(Kiara and Kirra) both definitely show promise in the heptathlon. It's totally up to them now how far they want to go with it."