Top courage behind Ipswich club's medal haul
HAVING six athletes return home with 15 medals is a tremendous effort at any major competition.
However, when the overall performance featured two acts of courage and commitment, the feat was even more incredible.
That was the case from Ipswich & District Athletic Club competitors who delivered some amazing results at last weekend's North Queensland Championships in Townsville.
Siblings Montanna and Stirling McAvoy spearheaded the Ipswich team's success being named most outstanding female and male middle distance runners at the meet.
Montanna, 17, won four gold medals, including the U/18 2000m steeplechase (6.37.29) and U/18 1500m. Her winning run of 4.35.72 broke the old North Queensland record by almost nine seconds.
Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student Montanna then competed in the Open women One Mile race, winning in 4.55.37.
In a race that doubled as an Open Queensland Championship event, she secured a fourth gold medal.
But while this year's Commonwealth Youth Games representative was continuing her tremendous form, her younger brother had to deal with a nasty mishap just to complete his weekend commitments.
Representing the Ipswich club for the first time, 15-year-old Stirling won two gold and two silver medals after injuring his right foot.
Stirling tore off his little toenail after accidentally tripping on the concrete steps before warming up for his first event.
Ipswich and District Athletic Club president and coach Vic Pascoe praised Stirling's courage for battling on through the pain threshold.
The teenager came second in the U/18 800m (2.04.78), a new personal best.
He later in the day won another silver medal in the Open men's One Mile race, which was also an Open Queensland State Championship event.
"When he came off after the first race, his foot and his shoe was just covered with blood,'' Pascoe said.
But that failed to stop him.
Early Sunday morning, Stirling won gold in the U/18 3000m (9.35.06) before claiming another win in the U/18 1500m (4.20.72) a few hours later.
The club competitor didn't have a chance to warm down as he had to fly back to Brisbane to captain the Brisbane Grammar School First X1 cricket team who then defeated the Hamilton School team from New Zealand. He batted fifth, seeing out the 50 overs and snaring two wickets to steer his side to a terrific win.
Montanna often did the same thing between athletics and playing football for Ipswich Girls' Grammar, Western Pride and Queensland.
Stirling's hectic schedule showed how multi-talented the McAvoy family is.
Montanna and Stirling were awarded the Charlie Doyle OAM Memorial Trophy for best male and female middle distance runners at the North Queensland Championships.
While delighted to see the McAvoy siblings excel, Pascoe was also proud of how Elizabeth Melrose, Larissa Chambers and Wright sisters Hayley and Erin performed in Townsville.
"For such a small contingent competing in 16 events and to come home with seven gold, seven silver and one bronze medal made it an enjoyable trip for all,'' Pascoe said.
"I am really proud of their attitude, performances and their team camaraderie was something to behold.''
Like Stirling, Melrose had to overcome a pre-event setback to share in the medal haul.
Melrose, 23, won a silver medal in the Open women 400m (60.44) setting a new personal best after a heavy fall the night before in the Open women's 400m hurdles. She crashed into the first hurdle and was disqualified.
Despite that double blow, the gritty club runner recovered to run in the Open women 100m just two hours later. She finished seventh with another personal best of 13.13.
Pascoe said Melrose needed to warm up differently for the 400m and 100m as she was so sore from the fall.
"She had skin off everywhere,'' he said.
Chambers, 22, regained her best sprinting form in three years, winning the Open women's 100m in 12.05.
Being a sponsored race, Chambers won a medal and a beautiful trophy.
The next day, she won the bronze medal in the open women 200m (25.77).
Pascoe was pleased to see the former World Junior Games sprinter setting some great times again.
"She's been training well,'' Pascoe said.
Hayley Wright, 16, won silver medals in the U18 100m (12.77) and U/18 100m hurdles (14.15).
Her 13-year-old sister Erin ran well to make the final of the 13 years 100m where she finished 6th in 13.92.
The next day, Erin won a silver medal in the 13 years 80m hurdles (12.88).
Erin struggled with a foot injury over the weekend, having it bandaged on Sunday for the hurdles.
Both sisters were up against competitors who race at national level.
Additional information from Vic Pascoe
Buoyed by their North Queensland success, Ipswich and District Athletic Club competitors have a number of major competitions ahead.
They include the State All Schools Championships (October 10-15), All Schools nationals (December 8-10), State junior titles (February) and Australian Junior Championships (March).
The 2018 Commonwealth Games selection trials are in February at Carrara - venue for next year's Gold Coast Games.