Helping hand for hurdle hopefuls
WHEN hurdles coach Kathy Bortolanza is stuck for ideas, she has a pretty handy friend to turn to.
"That is when she is free; she's pretty busy these days," Bortolanza said.
"But she is a lovely, natural person and is still coaching juniors and giving advice."
And Bortolanza has plenty of reason to turn to the wonder coach at the moment, with Atherton duo Bridget Seymour-Jones (13) and Heidi Steinmann (15) in her stable and members of the Queensland team that trekked to Hobart for the national secondary school championships at the weekend.
"They both have amazing potential, no doubt about that," the coach said.
"It's just a matter of how they adjust and deal with performing on the bigger stage."
In their first taste of national-level competition - Seymour-Jones only started hurdling seriously 12 months ago - they did themselves and the Far North proud.
Seymour-Jones finished sixth in the under-16 80m hurdles, while Steinmann was 10th in the 90m hurdles and 12th in the 200m hurdles.
They battled all sorts of adversity that included makeshift start guns, used because of a lack of gunpowder, and no hurdles available for their warm-ups.
The coach said Hannan and Pearson's influence on the sport in Australia was easy to see but not because they had made it any more 'attractive'.
"I wouldn't say hurdling is a sexy sport, I just think kids love the challenge," Bortolanza said.
"They see how Sally attacks the hurdles and you can see her will to win. That's what motivates the kids.
"It's the power out of the blocks to get ahead and the rhythm from then on to stay ahead."
Seymour-Jones said watching Pearson's gold medal effort in London was certainly inspiring.
"We got up early to watch that race," she said.
The teenager said it was great to share the journey with another Atherton
"We are pretty good friends and we train a lot together, about four times a week," she said.
Meanwhile, Saint Augustine's hammer thrower Sandy Dalton finished with a silver in the under-16 event at the National all-schools titles in Hobart, throwing 66.63m, and picking up bronze in the discus with his 56.85m effort.
Innisfail's Jason Strano, despite being only 16, jumped 2.06m to finish second in the under-18 high jump.
Other outstanding performances were Zara Cull, who finished seventh in the under-16 hammer, Mikaela Bretz, from St Monica's, who finished sixth in the under-14 triple jump and 10th in the under-14 long jump and Liam Spannenburg, who finished sixth in the under-18 javelin.
It followed Tully sprinter Layne Bennett's champion effort in the 200m final at Adelaide's primary school national titles, where Josh Lush also won medals in the shot put and discus.
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Strong form: Hurdler Bridget Seymour-Jones has "amazing potential".