The bags were a lot heavier on the way home for three Dubbo athletes who claimed numerous medals on Sports Travel Australia’s recent track and field tour of Canada.
Millie Gooch, Maya Piras and Brooke Galley all recorded personal best times on the 19-day trip, during which they took part in weekend meets at Kelowna and then Vancouver, staying at the University of British Columbia.
They returned home less than a month ago and are are already back training under Dubbo Athletics Club coach Mark Penman.
The trio are being pushed to bring their 200 metre dash under the 25 second mark, a challenge they have nicknamed ‘25 seconds of pain’.
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But it demonstrates their renewed determination to train, after having a taste of international competition.
“It feels good,” 15-year-old Piras said when asked what it was like to represent Australia.
She finished second in her 100 metre hurdles event at Kelowna, and earned numerous PBs and ribbons.
“I definitely feel like I needed that [extra push] and I just feel like I’m on a next level.”
Galley, who specialises in longer distances and recorded new personal bests in both her 200 and 400 metre events, agreed.
“I was very happy with my competition,” she said.
“It definitely made me feel like I could actually go somewhere with athletics if I push myself.”
Gooch, the youngest of the girls at just 13, also helped set a competition record at Okanagan Athletics Club’s Jack Brow Memorial track meet on June 30.
The Sports Travel Australia team of Stephanie Cesarin, Gooch, Krystal McMahon and Ashlyn Adams took out the 14-15 years girls 4x100m relay in a time of 52.61 seconds – more than a full second ahead of their nearest rivals.
Remarkably, the athletes had only arrived in Canada two days beforehand.
You were proud to be Australian.Brooke Galley
“It was a really good experience, and a really good opportunity to have with some of your best friends,” Gooch said.
She also finished first in the long jump in Vancouver with a personal best jump of 5.11m, second in her 100m, 200m, long and triple jump events at Kelowna and third in the 200m and high jump at Vancouver.
“I went better than I expected,” she said.
“It was good to just meet new people, experience different things over there and compete against a different country.
“They had a funny accent.”
The Sports Travel Australia squad also squeezed in a visit to Disneyland and Universal Studios in California, with the Dubbo trio remarking on the difference in culture between Canada and the US.
But they agreed the highlight of the trip was representing Australia.
“It was really good, you were proud to be Australian and racing against different people,” Galley said.
“It was just how friendly everyone was,” Piras added.
“Before a race, normally everyone is just trying to get in the zone but the people from Canada would just come up and start talking to you and asking how your trip is going.”
“Thanks to Mark, and everyone who helped get us there,” Gooch said.