JNR SPORTSPERSON: Josh raises the bar in Sports Awards race
JOSH Carige broke three athletics records including one which stood for 22 years to win the race to be crowned Grafton Shoppingworld Sportsperson of the Month for September.
Last month he cleared the Yamba Public School Under-11 Boys high jump record mark of 137cm set in 1998, and went on to clear the bar at 141cm.
He also produced record times in the 100m and 200m, and missed out on the 800m record by less than a second for the second year in a row.
Instant success for newcomer
It was a remarkable effort from the Year 5 student, who was first introduced to athletics when he moved to Yamba from Darwin just three years ago.
"My school didn't do any athletics or running races," Josh told The Daily Examiner. "It all started when we got here, where my school has athletics carnivals annually in third term.
"I came age champion in my first year here. It was the first time I'd actually ever done athetics and I came first in almost everything."
The sudden success planted the seed for a track and field passion, and the following year Josh joined Lower Clarence Little Athletics Club and started competing in carnivals.
Josh improves in leaps and bounds
Last year he tied the 10-year boys high jump record of 126cm and came within a second of the record in the 100m, 200m and 800m running events.
Over the next 12 months Josh's high jump skills came along in leaps and bounds in every sense of the word, stacking an extra 15cm in clearance height and graduating from the scissor kick to the flop technique, which the Department of Education requires permission from accredited coaches for junior athletes to attempt due to the increased injury risk.
He trains with Lower Clarence Little Athletics Club at Yamba Public School during the week, and under the watchful eye of Grafton-based specialist high jump coach Michelle Hurcum at Terry West Athletics Field in Junction Hill every Sunday.
Sportsperson of the Month surprise
While this award came out of the blue for Josh, who received the news having just arrived home from family holidays, it wasn't the first surprise he has received of late.
"I knew I had broken the high jump record, but didn't know about the 100 or 200 records until I found out from the school newsletter," he said.
Coronavirus ends state dream at final hurdle
In March, having previously qualified but been unable to go, Josh went to Sydney to compete in his first state level competition as part of the Lower Clarence Little Athletics squad, only to have his excitement dashed by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We went to Sydney but then it got called off because of coronavirus," he said. "I came first at regionals about three weeks before that."
Josh was unsure whether he would get another chance to compete in any athletics events in 2020. But while higher honours appear to be put on hold as the NSW PSSA representative school sport pathway remains cancelled, he did ensure 2020 did not pass by completely without rewriting a piece of its history.
Natural gift runs in the family
While his talents are spread across track and field, there is no doubt his favourite discipline is high jump, aided by an unfair hereditary advantage, towering above his peers at 168cm, or 5'6'', and growing.
"I am tall," he said. "There's another three people around the same height, but I'm the tallest in my year."
VOTING: How it works
Josh won the Sportsperson of the Month by polling the most 3-2-1 votes from the judging panel of 11 people comprised of representatives of the Lower Clarence and Clarence Valley sports councils and major sponsors The Daily Examiner and Grafton Shoppingworld.
This month's voting tally was one of the most competitive in the award's seven-year history, with Josh polling 16 votes and all five nominees tallying at least nine votes.
The other nominees were North Coast Football Academy goal-scoring sensation Jarrett Power-Casson, NRRRL Under-18 rugby league star Elliott Speed, Far North Coast netballer Tahlia O'Hara and seven-year-old surfing grommet Phoenix Talbot.
Finalists for Junior Sportsperson of the Year
As the 10th and final Sportsperson of the Month for 2020, at 11 years of age Josh is the youngest nominee for the Junior Male Sportsperson of the Year.
The other nominees in line for the aware to be announced at the Clarence Valley Sports Awards at Grafton District Services Club on November 14 are:
• Hayden Ensbey (December) - Cricket, Rugby League
• Jack Leeson (March) - Swimming
• Reilly Wunderlich (April) - Golf
• Jamal Laurie (May) - Rugby League
• Maison Simmons (July) - Cricket
• Harley Walters (August) - Surfing
Those in contention for Junior Female Sportsperson of the Year are:
• Kalani Ives (January) - Surf Lifesaving, Swimming
• Andrea Thomson (February) - Swimming
• Hollie Fuller (June) - Golf
Nominations about to close Team, Club, Coach and Volunteer
While all the finalists for the major individual awards have now been decided, nominations for Volunteer, Club, Team and Coach of the year are open until 5pm this Friday, October 9.
The seventh annual awards dinner is proudly supported by The Daily Examiner, Grafton Shoppingworld and Clarence Valley Council. Ticket details to be released soon.
Relive the 2019 Clarence Valley Sports Awards