Gold – a hop, skip and jump away!
By Tom Mitchell
From the early days of the “Lithgow Flash” Marjorie Jackson, to Raelene Boyle and Jane Fleming, to more recent names like Cathy Freeman and Sally Pearson – Australia has a proud history of women in athletics.
Many of our stars, though, have come from the track – so what about the field?
Meet Linda Leverton.
She doesn’t know it, but this bright-eyed Brisbane girl is Australia’s next big hope on the world’s stage after landing herself in the Australian Commonwealth Games team in the women’s triple jump.
But it’s been no easy road to get there either. Linda’s journey to Glasgow has had its fair share of setbacks and close calls. The 27 year old missed out on making the Comm Games team in 2006 by just 7 centimetres and then 4cm stopped her from boarding the plane to Delhi in 2010.
But Linda never gave up, driven and fiercely determined, she’s now seeing all her hard work pay off.
“I’m proud of myself I hung in there and finally got it,” Linda told Sportette.
“There are lots of times you could quit along the way as most athletes would with injuries and general setbacks, so I’m just proud to be out there and the persistence has paid off I guess.”
Adding to the hype surrounding her Commonwealth debut, Linda is ranked second in the Commonwealth for triple jump and credits her success to the Queensland Academy of Sport.
“It certainly has made a massive impact on the past two years in my triple jump – winning nationals this year and last year. The sport science, the testing, the biomechanics is just in a league of its own.”
Australia has never had a female Olympian in triple jump, nor has any Australian woman won a medal of any colour, at any international meet in the discipline.
Linda is hoping to end all that.
“That is a goal for me. I would love to be the first Australian to win a medal in women’s triple jump. It’s still kind of a raw event for Australia, but if I was the one to win the medal, I’d be pretty stoked.”
On her way to doing so she hopes to break another piece of history – the Australian record.
Her personal best is currently 11 centimetres off the national mark that stands at 14.04 metres.
“I’m pretty close to that now, but I’m not going to put pressure on myself, just keep chipping away at it.”
Linda jumped a wind assisted 14.07 metres last year and says she is the best shape of her career leading into her first major international meet in 8 years.
But before she lines up in Glasgow, she’ll have made an exciting detour via the United States for the IAAF Diamond League meet in New York as well as events in Spain and Italy.
Not only the perfect preparation for her Commonwealth Games campaign, but vital experience in her quest to become Australia’s first Olympic women’s triple jumper.
“A lot can happen in two years before Rio. I think right now I’m just enjoying being a part of the Commonwealth Games experience and just can’t wait to really make the most of now. Who knows what will be happening in a couple of years time, but I’ll keep going through Rio and hopefully the Tokyo Olympics as well.”
It seems nothing can stop this Queenslander and if her persistence is anything to go by, this won’t be the last time you’ll read the name Linda Leverton.