Sixty of Australia’s finest young athletic stars have today been selected for the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) to be held in Sydney from 16 – 20 January 2013.
The multi-national, multi-sport event was held for the first time in 2001 and the sixth edition is set to be the biggest yet. It will welcome athletes from 30 countries in 17 sports, with the host nation set to field two equal athletics teams dubbed Australia Green and Australia Gold.
The AYOF has been the launching pad of some of Australia’s most successful track and field stars, with the likes of Sally Pearson, Jared Tallent and Dani Samuels, all having won medals at the Festival before going on to achieve Olympic and World Championship success.
One athlete who is looking to emulate this and launch his international career is Mathew Denny from South-East Queensland.
A three-time gold medallist at the Australian All-School Championships in Hobart last weekend, Denny also smashed the Australian under 18 hammer throw record in the Gold Coast two weeks ago, to etch his mark of 75.82m into the record books.
“Being selected to the team means a great deal to me because it will be the perfect stepping stone for World Youths later in the year,” Denny said. “I will face more competition at a high intensity, and it will let me learn to handle that pressure and expectation. I'm looking forward to this competition with great enthusiasm and excitement. This will be a great learning curve for all competitors that are looking to represent the Australia in the future.”
Another young athlete who is edging her way into the record books is 14-year-old Molly Blakey. The daughter of former AFL player John Blakey, Molly will contest the individual 400m as well as the two relay events on the program.
Blakey won the 400m at last weekend’s All-School Championships in 55.12 seconds - the fastest time at the meet across all female age groups. Her time was just under the world youth qualifying standard, with her aim to make this time by next year to secure her place at the 2013 World Junior Championships in the Ukraine. She also added a gold and silver in the relays and placed third in the 200m for a total of four medals.
“The Australian Youth Olympic Festival is a great initiative by the AOC, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” Athletics Australia Junior High Performance Manager Sara Mulkearns said.
“From an Olympic sport perspective, the more elite competition opportunities we can provide the better. For Athletics Australia, it also provides a great education experience for up and coming athletes, and a new breed of team management, coaches and medicos. Those we have selected to compete and assist in coordinating the team are in many cases new to such a high level of competition and the exposure for them on home soil bodes well for future representation at major championships held overseas.”
For more information about athletics at the AYOF click here >>>
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