Ipswich student benefits from 'physical' Bahamas experience
FUTURE Commonwealth Games prospect Montanna McAvoy is often unchallenged on her way to winning state and national junior events.
The Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student also produced another dominant run in retaining her 5km female title at last Sunday's annual Ipswich Park2Park competition. She shaved seven seconds off the course record.
However, that run for fun came after McAvoy enjoyed her first taste of major international competition at the recent Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas.
McAvoy, 16, finished fifth representing Australia in the 3km event in Nassau, the capital city of the Atlantic Ocean archipelago.
While her national record and personal best time of nine minutes, 14.67 seconds would have put her in medal contention, McAvoy had to settle for a 9.41.23 run in the hot and humid conditions.
Most challenging were her higher level opponents.
"It was a slow race because it was so tactical,'' McAvoy said during a break at school.
"I've run similar times to all of them but it was slow from the start and really physical.''
The rising Aussie talent said she'd never encountered so many bumps running over 3km.
"There were a lot of elbows,'' she said, competing against top juniors from countries like Kenya, Canada and New Zealand.
"It was just harder to run. No-one wanted to take the lead.
"I tried not to get boxed in . . . that's like the biggest challlenge - make sure you can just have a clean run.''
However, she said the valuable eye-opening experience would help her in the future, as she aims for next year's world under 20 championships and hopefully future Commonwealth Games or Olympics.
"It was really good,'' the Ipswich and District Athletics Club runner said.
"It definitely helps me prepare a bit more and just experience to race at that level.''
McAvoy said staying in the Athletes Village for 10 days and representing her country was "awesome''.
She said the highlight was "being a part of that team and being able to race there''.
Before competing near the end of the Games, she got to do some training, share in the Aussie team environment and enjoy benefits like the diverse buffet-style food in the "massive'' dining hall.
Having tasted all that, she's returned to Ipswich focused on her athletics career.
McAvoy heads to Tasmania next week to contest another Australian cross country championships.
Her 4km event representing Queensland is next Saturday.
She finished second last year in the under-18 school event.
Looking further ahead, McAvoy will have to produce another strong qualifying time to be in contention for next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
"The goal is to try and get a B qualifier,'' she said.
She's keen to continue her impressive run of success, featuring record-breaking 3km and steeplechase efforts earlier this year.
As for last weekend's Park2Park, McAvoy tackled the testing course with her usual enthusiasm.
"It was really fun,'' she said.
"I really enjoyed it.
"It was very hilly, a tough course but a good run.''
Her winning time was 17 minutes, 49 seconds, two minutes ahead of her nearest challenger.
The multi-talented teenager also hopes to play again for Western Pride's football team in the National Premier Leagues state competition if she can make that work after returning from Tasmania.