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TRACK STAR Claudia H (Year 11) makes the Australian Team for the World Athletics Championships

Mentone Grammar student, Claudia H (Year 11) has been turning heads in the track and field world with the Australian team recently recruiting her for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA (15 – 24 July).

The following two months will be an exhilarating time for Claudia, who has just come back from training at our Schools’ Athletics Camp in Queensland, and will be flying to Oregon today to compete in the 800m race at the World Athletics Championships. Afterwards, she will immediately hop on a plane to Miami for a team camp before heading to Cali, Colombia for the World Junior Championships. Claudia will then return to Mentone Grammar to complete Term 3, and of course, be part of our Athletics Team. Life is a whirlwind!

At the beginning of this year, Claudia set her sights on the World Junior Championships, not imagining that she would also make the Australian team for the World Athletics Championships. When asked about her recent success, Claudia humbly replied, “I was training for the World Juniors, so I honestly didn’t expect to be named in the Australian team, it’s an unbelievable bonus. Right now, I’m feeling a little bit apprehensive and super excited.”

When news broke about her recent success, Claudia was attending Mentone Grammar’s Athletics Camp on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Surrounded by friends and supportive coaches, Claudia said this time helped ease her nerves. “When I heard about the Australian Team, I was so shocked. Having my friends around was the best way to calm any anxiety. It’s my belief that ‘you can never train your best on your own’ so being surrounded by a great group helped me train better. My school friends and coaches cheered as I pushed myself harder in timed sprints, and constantly gave me support throughout the five-day camp.”

Claudia is coached by one of our outstanding Mentonians, four-time Olympian and former world 5000m bronze medallist, Craig Mottram. After joining the School’s cross country team in Year 7, Claudia was impressed by Craig’s coaching style. “He is very humble and down to earth. Craig coaches me in a way that I feel supported to reach my goals, always making sure it’s my decision. He wants what is best for me.” After the Cross Country season was over in 2018, Craig became Claudia’s full-time coach externally and has since seen her achieve success after success. Mentone Grammar prides itself on hiring high-quality coaches to train our students. Our sports program is designed for students to develop a broad range of experiences and skills across many different sports. Craig understands the importance of guiding young athletes to choose their own paths. “Here at Mentone Grammar, we create independent athletes. I encourage Claudia to steer in the direction she chooses, providing her guidance along the way. At the end of the day, she is 17 years old, she has to enjoy what she does.”

Although she is making a name for herself as a track and field star, Claudia has proven herself to be an all-around athlete, with swimming, touch football, and cross country all in her wheelhouse. On this note, Craig says, “I have encouraged Claudia to stay involved in Mentone Grammar sports, as I think that’s very important for her to feel like she’s still part of the program that has helped her become as good as she is.”

Throughout 2022, Claudia has been jetting across the country to compete in national athletic events, collecting gold medals along the way. To date, she has competed in two 400m races, six 800m races, one 1000m race and seven 1500m races, all while continuing her Year 11 studies. When asked how she juggles sports and academics, Claudia says, “I couldn’t manage it without the support of my teachers, who have been so understanding and supportive of my goals. In preparation for my time overseas, my teachers have prepared a series of resources I can study in between training and events. They have been there for me every step of the way, and I’m very thankful for the ongoing support.”

After an exciting few months of travel and events, Claudia is determined to return to Mentone Grammar to complete her VCE studies – just in time for the interschool athletics season. Ever the humble student, Claudia says, “Technically, the season hasn’t started, so I can’t be sure I have made the School team just yet… I still have to make trials!”. We congratulate Claudia on everything she has achieved and wish her the best of luck for the upcoming World Athletics Championships!

Written By: Steph Kinnear