Ivanhoe athletes competing in the Australian All-Schools and Youth Championships in Hobart last week-end came away with two silver medals, and another two set personal bests. It was an excellent performance overall, and each athlete represented Victoria with distinction.

Weather conditions were not good. There was a blustery wind, often in the faces of the vaulters, and it was very cold. Apparently Global Warming has not filtered through to Tassie yet.

Madi Heather was first up in the under 17 event last Friday. She had first time clearances at 3.20m and 3.35m, the latter being a personal best. On her third attempt at 3.50m, she just brushed the bar, and she was unlucky that it fell off the pegs. It was an extremely tough competition, and Madi was again fourth, also 3.35m would have won her a medal in under 18s!

The under 14 men’s event was held last Saturday, and in a small field, James Alavuk won a silver medal. He equalled his personal best of 2.45m, and shows a lot of composure for a 12 year-old at his first national championships. He will be in the under 14s again in 2010, so he has a head start on others entering the event next year.

Lewis Seccombe and Tim Welch made their debuts at nationals on Monday, in the under 17s. Lewis has been hampered by an injured back, and it was feared, right up to the day of the event, that he would not be able to compete. He gave it his best shot, although his back was “gone” after his first warm-up jump. He cleared 3.50m, bit found an equal personal best leap of 3.70m too much on the day. He finished a galant fifth.

Tim has improved greatly in the last few weeks, and he was rewarded with a new personal best of 3.50m, for sixth place. That is an amazing 84cm improvement on the best last March, and now that Tim realizes that he can compete with the best in his age group, he should continue to improve.

Alana Green was also in action last Monday, in the women’s under 18 event. Because of her injured shoulder she has not been able to train, and therefore had to “go for broke”. She guessed that she had no more than three jumps in her. She took no jumps in warm-up to protest her shoulder, and then entered the competition at 3.30m, just 1cm below her best, and after all the others had started at lower heights. She had a huge first time clearance, and although she was not successful at 3.45m, this held up for a well deserved silver medal.

The championships received a lot of publicity in Hobart, There was a double-page full colour photo gallery in the newspaper one day, and on Monday morning, ABC local radio led its sports news with a report of the championships, saying that spectators had flocked to the stadium (a bit of an exaggeration, that), analysing Tasmania’s performances, and having an interview with a spokesperson from Athletics Tasmania. Then followed reports on the test cricket, and the Australian Open golf! Nice priorities.

The vaulters now are looking forward to the rest of shield competition, the Victorian Championships, and the Australian Junior and Youth Championships that will be held in Sydney in March.