Darling Downs student jumps into third place at nationals
ATHLETICS: Grace Newton, 11, made her mark at the Australian Track and Field Championships, clearing 143 centimetres to claim a podium finish.
The trip to Darwin proved well worth it for Grace and her family, bringing home a shiny bronze medal to add to her growing collection.
Rivalry was fierce with each competitor wanting to take home the win but Grace said her biggest competition was herself as she focused only on beating last year's seventh place.
"I try to block out the audience and do what I'm supposed to do to get over the bar... It was kind of nerve wracking but when we got into it, it was fun seeing the other girls from other states jumping," she said.
Grace's mum Cath Newton said she absorbed all the nerves as she and the family watched on proudly.
"I always get really nervous, I don't enjoy the big competitions until they make that first jump and get the monkey off their back," she said.
"It was a very proud moment, her dad and I couldn't really believe it we looked at each other and thought 'oh my goodness is that the top three?'.
"We're just so proud of her and she's making some great lifelong friends along the way."
Coach Ebony Kidd said Grace had come in leaps and bounds since last year, beating her result by a massive 10cm.
"I think Gracie's result reflected how hard she worked to get where she is. She trained very hard... growth of 10cm in a year is pretty unheard of," she said.
"With every win, with every PB she's gotten this year, I feel like she's grown a lot more confident and she just does the sport because she loves it so she says motivated which is great."
The top placing New South Wales girls were taller than Grace, but she and Kidd agreed it was the power in her legs that meant the most.
"Gracie's height is her worst enemy but she's got a very powerful legs that make up for it," Kidd said.
"I don't think she lets it intimidate her either because she loves high jump so much, she just is enjoying herself no matter the result which is a great way to be at her age," Miss Kidd said.
After a long athletic season, Grace will now enjoy a hard-earned break over summer before it starts up over again next year.