MIA LIGHTS UP THE TRACK
Year 10 student Mia Gross broke Victorian Under 17 records in both the 100m and 200m at the Athletics ACT Championships on the weekend of 18-19 February 2017. The 200m record belonged to Tamsyn Lewis-Manou, who Mia defeated in Melbourne one week prior in what was Tamsyn's final 400m run; coming out of retirement to assist her old club. In the space of two weeks Mia has produced qualifying times for this year's Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in the 100m, 200m and 400m events. With these times secured, Mia can now focus purely on running well at the selection trials at the end of March to ratify her selection for the Games in July.
It's been a whirlwind 2017 for Mia so far, between starting a new school - having arrived at Corio from Sacred Heart College - and competing in events across the country. "It's been an adjustment (moving schools), and I'm slowly getting used to navigating such a large campus," Mia said. "I love the facilities here and the new friends I have made; both in Fraser House and the School in general." As she builds towards the Australian Athletics Championships (doubling as the CYG selection trials) at the end of March, Mia has continued to test herself in open-age events against quality sprinters, including national 100m record-holder Melissa Breen and Papua New Guinea's Toea Wisil, who completed the 100m/ 200m double at the Athletics ACT Championships. "It's not often you get the opportunity to run against former Olympians," Mia said. "Running in the 100m final against the current Australian record holder; it really made me push myself." In the heats of the 100m, Mia ran a personal best time of 11.87 to qualify seventh-fastest, before lowering her PB to 11.71 in the final (finishing fifth). In the 200m final, after running yet another personal best time (23.83) in the heats, she finished in third behind only Melissa and Toea.
"The athletic world is her oyster," Tamsyn Lewis-Manou declared after competing against Mia in the final round of the Athletics Victoria Shield on the second weekend in February. Mia won the 400m final - with Tamsyn finishing second - in a time of 54.13. A three-time Olympian in both the 400m and 800m events who was thrown into the limelight at a young age, Tamsyn is well-credentialed when it comes to judging young talent and, in Mia, she likes what she sees. "The fact she has great speed is what is needed at her age as she matures through to senior levels," Tamsyn explained. "She's such a composed and level-headed young lady, I can tell she will take to international athletics (down the track) with no problems."
Displaying the level-headedness Tamsyn identified, Mia couldn't contain her excitement in sharing such a special moment with Tamsyn. "Running against Tamsyn in her last ever 400m was an absolute honour and I made a point of telling her so," she said. With one eye now on the Commonwealth Youth Games later this year, Mia could be forgiven for getting ahead of herself. Tamsyn is confident that the 15-year-old has the systems in place to ensure the step-up to the next level is a smooth one. "It's important in athletics to just hold your nerve and confidence as you transition to seniors as it's not always a smooth ride. Have faith in the team around you."
"She seems to have all these important attributes in place; I'm excited to see her progress as she gets older."