AIMING HIGH: Sprinter Nathalie Avery and high jumper Kyle McIlveen will compete at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Perth next month.
AIMING HIGH: Sprinter Nathalie Avery and high jumper Kyle McIlveen will compete at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Perth next month. Adam Hourigan

Local athletics duo to contest national titles in Perth

ATHETICS: Nathalie Avery and Kyle McIlveen will head to Perth next month to compete in the 2016 Australian Junior Athletics Championhips.

Both Grafton Little Athletics members exceeded their own expectations at the NSW Junior and Youth Athletics Championships held at Homebush earlier this month to qualify for the national event held from March 8-13.

Nathalie won her first NSW Junior gold medal in the under-14 girls' 100m, while Kyle won bronze in the under-17 boys' high jump.

Nathalie's time of 13 seconds flat bettered her personal best time by 0.01 seconds, which she achieved when winning gold at NSW All Schools in 2015.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: Nathalie Avery wins gold at NSW All Schools Atheltics Championships

"I wasn't that sure how I would go because I hadn't trained much over the holidays," she said.

"But in the weeks leading up to it I picked it up a bit."

Into a 0.7kmh headwind, she blitzed the field to finish several metres clear of her nearest rival.

No Caption
No Caption Bill North

Nathalie turns 13 on March 14 - the day she returns home from Western Australia and a medal would be the perfect gift. In any case, she is supremely confident of breaking the 13-second barrier for the first time.

"Between now and then I will train a lot harder," she said.

"I'm hoping to get into the finals of the 100m. I think I will break 13 seconds. I was pretty close."

Nathalie will also compete in the 200m, in which she finished fourth at state in a personal best time of 27.78 seconds, and the under-14 girls 4x100m relay.

Nathalie Avery won her first NSW Junior Athletics Championships gold medal when she won the Under-14 girls 100m in 13.00 seconds on Sunday, 7th of February, 2015.Photo Contributed
Nathalie Avery won her first NSW Junior Athletics Championships gold medal when she won the Under-14 girls 100m in 13.00 seconds on Sunday, 7th of February, 2015.Photo Contributed Bill North

While Nathalie had technically already qualified for the national event through her NSW All Schools times, it was far more touch and go for high jumper Kyle.

Hampered by a knee condition late last year, Kyle showed just enough improvement to finish third on a countback ahead of two other jumpers at a height of 180 centimetres.

"I'm still in injury so I didn't really think I was going to jump as well as I did," the 15-year-old said.

The Year 10 Grafton High student has previously jumped 187cm in competition and 196cm at training under the guidance of coach Michele Hurcum. He is confident of approaching those marks in Perth.

"I'm on a plan with my physio," he said. "Daily and nightly sessions to hopefully speed up the process of straightening my knee cap."

Nathalie will also compete in five events at the Little Athletics Junior Championships in Newcastle this weekend, February 20-21.



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