NATIONAL PRIDE: Rosewood-based athlete Cassie Purdon hangs out her Australian gear after finishing fifth at the recent World Junior Championships in America.
NATIONAL PRIDE: Rosewood-based athlete Cassie Purdon hangs out her Australian gear after finishing fifth at the recent World Junior Championships in America. David Nielsen

Rising Cassie in cruise control

HAD Cassie Purdon competed at the Commonwealth Games, rather than the World Junior Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, she would have secured a top 10 finish.

Purdon has returned from three weeks in North America where she finished fifth in the high jump at the world junior titles.

Purdon jumped a personal best 185cm, only faltering when the bar was raised to 188cm - the bronze medal mark.

It would have been enough to have finished 10th at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 9cm short of the gold medal jump of Aussie Eleanor Patterson.

While some athletes failed to handle the pressure of representing their country on such a big stage, Purdon was unfazed by the occasion.

"I was just thinking of somewhere else instead of the people watching," she said.

"I zoned everything out."

She didn't show it but Purdon, like any teenager, had to push her self-doubts aside to clear 185cm.

She remembers seeing the bar above eye level and pondering the challenge.

"But I cleared it and didn't touch it at all. So I thought I could definitely go higher,'' she said.

It speaks volumes for her mental strength that she was able to produce her best.

But 17-year-old Purdon is not the type to put undue pressure on herself.

"I wasn't really worried about a medal once I got there," she said.

"Although I was a little bit disappointed when I couldn't jump 188cm."

Purdon went close at her first attempt at 188cm.

Her two subsequent efforts spoke of an athlete who had reached her limit.

"After a certain amount of jumps, you do get fatigued," she said. "I blocked on my second jump and ran into the bar."

Talking to Purdon in the backyard at her family's Rosewood property, you get the impression she does not get carried away with either the highs or the lows.

When she's not jumping extraordinary heights, she remains impressively grounded.

"A few things have changed I guess," Purdon said on returning to her old routines.

While she has a month off serious training (though she's still doing gym work), Purdon returned to competition yesterday at her district athletics titles.

Her nearest rivals there were striving to jump about 150cm, but it will be just the same Cassie Purdon lining up alongside them.

"I'll just do it and have fun," she said.

The big goal for Purdon now is to improve towards the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.

By then she hopes to be jumping in the 190s.

The good news it is well within reach.

The bad news is Aussie Commonwealth champion Patterson is only a year older than her.

Not that it is likely to bother Purdon.

Rising confidence

CASSIE Purdon's preparation for the world championships, with two competitions in Canada, was instrumental to her success.

She built her confidence up winning at a meet in Vancouver, which earned her $500.

"It was very crucial," she said. "Getting acclimatised with everything and getting used to all the people watching."



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