High jump champion Brandon Starc inspires Tasmanian Little Athletes
Commonwealth Games champion Brandon Starc gave an official endorsement when he met another high jump gold medallist in Launceston on Saturday.
The world’s third-ranked performer in the sport happily signed the Tasmanian under-14 high jump medal won by Riverside’s Kara Smith when he popped in on two little athletics centres.
The Australian record holder helped inspire the next generation of athletes in Longford and Launceston while also talking up Tasmania’s track and field pedigree and praising the sport’s attempts to claim the country’s best young athletes.
Starc said he was well aware of Tasmania’s impressive production line of world-class athletes including his Commonwealth Games teammates Stewart McSweyn and Jack Hale and fellow Rio Olympians Hamish Peacock and Milly Clark.
“I see Stewy at a lot of the Diamond League meetings and I’ve roomed with Hamish so I know Tasmania is doing really well and it’s great to see good turnouts like today as well,” said the 25-year-old New South Welshman.
Fielding some tough questions like “Can you teach me how not to go under the bar?”, Starc revealed he was scared of high jump until under-10s and much preferred long jump.
“I’m proud to be able to inspire these guys to keep going”
Australian high jump champion Brandon Starc
He also felt Athletics Australia was making progress towards directing Australia’s best young athletes into track and field as opposed to big money sports like football and cricket, thereby developing more national representatives like Brandon Starc and less like fast-bowling older brother Mitchell.
“They are doing the right thing by transitioning into one with little athletics and Athletics Australia and I think that’s awesome,” Starc said.
“Back when I was doing it you got to 15 and got a bit lost so that will help and encourage young ones to keep going.
“I remember when I was this age and got Ian Thorpe’s autograph. I was ecstatic and that really drove me on so I’m proud to be able to inspire these guys to keep going.”
Starc, who jumped 2.32m to win the Commonwealth Games and has since equalled the Australian record of 2.36m, jumped 2.30m to finish sixth at the recent world champs in Doha.
“I was happy with that considering the season I’d had. I’ve been dealing with a back injury since February so that was a good result.”
Starc needs to be in the top-ranked 32 in the world to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games.
Kara, 14, was delighted to meet one of her heroes as part of the Coles Little Athletes Big Dreams program.
“I learned that everybody faces challenges and you’ve got to be persistent in what you want to do well at,” said the Riverside High School student.