While the sporting world may be focused on the Soccer World Cup and upcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the next generation of Australian athletes are preparing for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Among the team will be four WA athletes, Jordan Makins (800m), Ella Solin (400m Hurdles and 4x400m), Nina Kennedy (Pole Vault) and Emma Philippe (Pole Vault). The four WA athletes will be among the 61- athlete strong contingent that Australia is sending to the Championships, the biggest team ever sent.
Returning to the Australian team, Ella, Nina and Emma will all put on the green and gold once more, this time with a better understanding of what to expect.
‘It's very exciting, I’ve been to the last [World Junior Championships] in Barcelona. So I sort of know what to expect, but this time I am in an individual event which is extra exciting. I know I can take time off my personal best!’ said Ella.
‘Its an amazing experience, I am proud to be competing for Australia and I feel way more prepared this time around. The first international competition came at me and I wasn’t prepared for such a different competition environment, competing with girls that speak a different language just threw me a little bit.’ said Emma.
While the three girls have all represented Australia in the past, Jordan Makins will be making his Australian Team debut in the 800m.
‘It feels really great to be given the opportunity to run at international level. Hopefully I can get through the heats and qualify for the semifinals. That will be huge and will have me in the top sixteen in the world for U20. Given that I’ve only been running seriously for just over eighteen months I’d take it as a big accomplishment.’ said Makins.
The World Juniors has been the focus for all four WA athletes, however, pole vaulters Nina Kennedy and Emma Philippe have already demonstrated that they are Commonwealth Games material. Both of the pole vaulters jumped multiple B-qualifiers over the season, and after Emma claimed silver at the Australian Track and Field Championships, the dream nearly came sooner than expected.
‘Gold Coast is absolutely is a long term goal. Home country would be great. It was never on the cards for me this season, but then I started competing well and got a few B-qualifiers, so it was crazy to think that is was possible. But really I was working towards Juniors and I am happy with the decision to go to Eugene.’ said Emma.
However come 2018, both girls hope to clinch selection for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
‘Its amazing to be at that standard, but at the moment my whole focus is World Juniors. Of course in four years time my plan is to compete in the Commonwealth Games, but Oregon is the focus and the rest I’ll think about later.’ said Nina.
The 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships will commence in Eugene on Tuesday 22 July. You can watch live coverage of Oregon 2014 via the IAAF Youtube channel and Eurosport's Australia.