In the lead up to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games one of the Australian Track and Field competitors we were told to watch was Keely Small. Keely, now 17, was the fastest ever Australian junior over 800m having set a new U20 (and U18) record of 2·00:81. But Keely didn’t anticipate that her reign on the athletics track would be so short lived with the arrival of a tenacious, focussed 16 year old from the South Coast NSW hot at her heels. Enter Jaylah Hancock – Cameron, a student from Moruya High, and a member of the Limitless Track team coached by Andae Kalemusic and running for the Bankstown Sports Athletic club. At their last meet (July 8th) Jaylah declared the 4km cross country her own with a stunning time of 13:50 with Keely Small coming in at 14:13. The meet before had seen the end result the other way round however, with Jaylah running 2nd from that encounter Jaylah was determined to run her own race plan and take control. The plan worked perfectly.
Above: Commonwealth Athlete and Australian record holder Keely Small (546) about to be overtaken by Jaylah in a tactical move that sealed her victory with a stunning time of 13:50 There is definitely a tussle building between the two and presently it is neck to neck with both girls winning 2 each of their four most recent races. Jaylah had already thrown down the gauntlet to Keely Small at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Vanuatu in May coming in a close second in their 800m meet.
Above: Jaylah with her Silver beside World # 1 Keely Small receiving her Gold at the Oceania meet in Vanuatu
The next time they met was when Jaylah competed in ACT Championships held at Stromlo, running 4km in the under 18's. Only her second time running the course, she demonstrated a massive improvement from her first time tackling it. In absolute freezing windy conditions Jaylah came in a strong 3rd against Australia’s best runners in the under 18s on the day including Small. In the lead up to this last win Jaylah once again showed a marked improvement in her tactics that put her in good stead to take out the gold on July 8th for the 4km. In the end she won her own under 17s race and won outright the 15,16,17,18 age groups. Jaylah’s sponsor Huck Nutrition proudly wrote of the win “This girl is a true champion in every sense of the word” However that race wasn’t solely about Jaylah’s victory. Just behind Jaylah something quite extraordinary was happening with another South Coast athlete, only revealing itself at the final bend. Wending her way between the ranks of some of Australia’s finest young athletes was Shayne Hargraves, 15 years old, from Carroll College, Broulee . Shayne ran silver for her age group in that race and she came 4th over all, just seven seconds behind the Australian Commonwealth athlete Keely Small. Shayne had also found the strength and race smarts to bring it home with a huge personal best effort of 14:20, dramatically improved from her previously impressive 14.45 in an under 16 girls race just a week before.
Above: Shayne (L) with a well deserved silver This race was a huge moment for Shayne and a tremendous turning point as it was her first NSW medal in cross country after a year of tirelessly training with the Limitless Team. And as always the team members wildly celebrated her race and proudly congratulated her result. Jaylah’s race plan for the event saw her absolutely focused from the start. Not prepared to run in second place to Keely she began pumped, spurred on by a now favourite song that had been blaring just before the starters gun. From the outset she looked comfortable, relaxed and in the zone and with a carefully structured game plan in place she set up her race perfectly, factoring in the cold gusty conditions of the day.
Above: Jaylah (L) and Shayne (R) under game plan instruction at the meet. As members of the Limitless Track team they receive enormous support from the Bankstown Athletics and sports Club. Jaylah is also sponsored by Huck Nutrition and from the continuing support of Tim Dalrymple of Sportfirst in Moruya. Congratulations also Asha Martin who won her first NSW Cross Country Championships in under 20's in a 18.11 in the 5 km which was a highly competitive tactical race. Asha won her race in a gutsy run over the last 1 km Of note was that Asha had won the ACT championships only a weeks before against world junior cross country representative Courtney Hopkins who come in second. Added to this win was the excellent result during the NSW short course event against Rose Davis, a high quality runner who has won many State titles.
Above: Asha Martin with a well deserved gold taking out the under-20's 5kms in a race time of 18.11 The South Coast girls now well and truly have the attention of the athletics officials and their peers around the country who are witnessing the ascension of two very serious athletes to watch on a national and international stage. Related: Jaylah Hancock-Cameron - a quiet achiever Shayne Hargraves: a south coast rising star