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Athletics News 2024: Melinda Gainsford-Taylor on sport vs football, cricket, AFL, NRL and rugby sevens

A top Australian sprint star looks around at her schools’ athletics tracks and sees talents she describes as “scary.”

Three-time Olympian Melinda Gainsford-Taylor made the remarks days after Torrie Lewis’ record-breaking run, in which the 19-year-old raced down the straight in 11.10 seconds to become the fastest Australian woman in history. the story.

Gainsford-Taylor has spent the last 10 to 12 years coaching primary school children. She also spent countless hours watching schoolchildren of all ages in action at various competitions.

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Many stay in the sport into adulthood, drawn by the desire to represent Australia at the Olympics. But many others remove their spikes and never touch them again, tempted by the prospect of pulling on a Matildas jersey, becoming a rugby sevens star, reaching the bright lights of rugby league or Australian rules , or to put on the green baggy.

The reality is that while neither rugby league nor Australian rules offer the appeal of the Olympics, football and rugby sevens do, while cricket, although only in a T20 format, will join the Olympics of Los Angeles in 2028.

“It’s amazing… I ask the kids, ‘Who would like to run in the Olympics one day?’, and they all raised their hands. It’s just such an incredible thing, such a special thing,” said Gainsford. -Taylor tells Wide World of Sports.

“I think one thing I’ve noticed being retired is that the level of respect for being an Olympian will always be there, and the experience of being at the Olympics is one that I don’t I don’t think you can ever describe it unless you were part of it.”

Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter and rugby sevens winger Kaitlin Shave were both stars on the track as children.

In contrast, Josh Azzopardi, a Commonwealth Games sprinter with a 100m personal best of 10.15, was offered a sevens contract by Rugby Australia in 2019 but turned it down to pursue his dream of Athletics.

“I guess I can just understand why I chose to play an individual sport rather than a team sport,” says Gainsford-Taylor, who has held the national record in the women’s 200m since 1997.

“I think it depends on whether you are a person who likes to do things individually or be part of a team.

“It’s actually so hard to stand in line alone in that line all the time. It’s actually not an easy thing to do. I think people underestimate it. But I could control the situation and I didn’t need to rely on anyone else at that time to be able to perform well.

“But I think it depends on personalities and individuals and how much they like being part of a team, or having that moment of control and where their results are because of them.

“What we need to do as athletic coaches is get them to continue to love the sport and be involved in the sport.”

Perhaps the most exciting Australian junior sprinter currently emerging is a 16-year-old Queenslander called Gout Gout. He has already run 10.43 in the 100m and 20.69 in the 200m. Athletics Australia president Jane Flemming praised the towering prodigy on 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio this week, comparing him to a young Usain Bolt.

Other outstanding Australian junior sprinters included Olivia Dodds, 17, from Perth, who ran 11.48 for 100m and 23.68 for 200m, and Sydneysider Sebastian Sultana, 18, who clocked 10, 27 for 100m and 20.79 for 200m.

“A lot of kids run incredibly fast,” says Gainsford-Taylor.

“I don’t remember when I was in the school system (in the 1970s and 1980s) anyone running that fast.

“I don’t know if it’s the shoes they’re wearing, or maybe they’re all training harder than before.

“But there’s an incredible amount of talent. It’s just crazy. It’s a little mind-boggling, to be honest with you.

“So hopefully they can continue this as adults and be able to compete at a world level.

“I went to all the schools in Perth recently (in December) and I was flabbergasted at how fast these kids were running.

“It’s pretty amazing to think about the amount of talent that’s out there.”

News Source : wwos.nine.com.au
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