Record run has rising track star dreaming big

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Canberra 2600
(ABC Radio Canberra: Hannah Walmsley) ABC Radio Canberra

By

Hannah Walmsley

Updated

March 24, 2017 13:12:39

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Keely Small trains at the AIS as part of an elite middle distance running squad.
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Keely Small 800m race
A couple of weeks on from the event, Small is now allowing herself to set some bigger goals.”The main goal for this year was to represent Australia at the under 18 Commonwealth Youth Championships in the Bahamas.”Now that I’ve run 2:01, there’s more possibilities on the agenda.”Representing Australia in the green and gold at a Commonwealth or Olympic Games would be the ultimate and I know that’s a possibility now.”Training with elite menSmall started running at the age of nine after she was talent-spotted at a fun run by local junior coach Paul Torley.”I was a swimmer from when I was really young, but then when I met Paul he encouraged me to come along to training and I’ve loved athletics ever since,” she said.Now coached by AIS senior physiologist Philo Saunders, Small is training as part of an elite group of middle distance athletes.She is the only female in her squad which includes Paralympic bronze medallist and T46 1,500m and 5,000m world record holder Michael Roeger.”Trying to hang on to the back of the boys at training has really helped my confidence which has paid off in competition,” Small said.”I’ve always preferred to run with the guys and it really makes me work hard.”My goal has always just been to keep up with the guys at training.”And now I’ve started passing a few of them,” she added, smiling. External Link:

Keely Small statistics tweet
Small clocks around 60 to 70 kilometres each week which she manages to fit in around school hours at St Clare’s College.”I want to do well at school as well, so I just need to work hard to get the balance right.”A quiet achieverDr Saunders said Small had just the right combination of strong determination and good physiology.”Keely is so good to coach because she’s a quiet achiever — she always turns up and trains hard, never complains, is always appreciative and just gives it her best,” he said. Canberra high school student Keely Small is dreaming of wearing green and gold.And it is a dream well within reach after the 15-year-old set a new Australian junior record over 800 metres in Canberra earlier this month.Running the blistering time of 2:01.46, Small became the world’s fastest ranked female aged under 18 over 800 metres.She lined up on the start line of the Athletics Australia Grand Prix in Canberra hoping to run the Commonwealth Youth Games qualifier of 2:08.20.The year 10 student ran past athletes 10 years older than her to clock a world-class time, less than half a second short of the qualifying mark for the senior IAFF World Championships. “Being part of this fast group has really just harnessed her speed.”Her speed is so good that she’s not far behind the guys when we do shorter reps of 200 metres or 300 metres.”Within the squad that speed can almost go unnoticed because she’s training with elite males.”When you stop and look at the times she’s running, it’s pretty unbelievable.”While the 800-metre event is where Small is shining, Dr Saunders said she had the potential to perform equally well over 1,500 metres.”She’s run 4.18 for the 1,500 metres at 15 which is also pretty exceptional,” he said.”If she keeps progressing the way she is, she’s going to be in line to run at the Commonwealth Games next year or have that as a realistic goal.”Small will compete in the under 18 800m at the Australian Athletics Championships as well as the open 800m race.Winning the junior race would give Small automatic selection for Commonwealth Youth Games in July.The Australian Athletics Championships begins on March 26 at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre, with more than 3,500 track and field athletes set to compete.