Set for new chal­lenges

Sportsper­son of the Year nom­i­nee, Paige O’Con­nor

South Burnett Times - - SPORT - Clau­dia Wil­liams Clau­dia. Wil­liams @ south­bur­nett­times. com. au

She seems to be sat­is­fied with her own achieve­ments with­out hav­ing to tell peo­ple. — Stephen O’Con­nor

SPORTSPER­SON OF THE YEAR NOM­I­NEE: Paige O’Con­nor has a pas­sion for run­ning, and she has had a suc­cess­ful year on the track.

The high­light of the year for Paige was rep­re­sent­ing Queens­land for the first time at the na­tional cross coun­try ti­tles in Tas­ma­nia.

Paige found suc­cess in the teams event, win­ning gold and bronze across the three days.

“We weren’t ex­pect­ing to come first so we were really happy,” she said.

“It was really fun to win with my team and we all be­came really good friends.”

To pre­pare for the cold con­di­tions in Tas­ma­nia, Paige was train­ing at 5.30am dur­ing win­ter.

“Get­ting up in the morn­ings was pretty hard but once I started do­ing my train­ing it was really good,” she said.

“It helped me feel a lot bet­ter in the wind and the cold in Tas­ma­nia.”

As well as the change in weather, Paige had to nav­i­gate a dif­fer­ent course but en­joys the chal­lenge.

“It’s really fun to run and it’s fun to learn a new course,” she said.

“You have got to to know what all the cor­ners are like to know what tac­tics to use and to make sure you don’t get stuck on the in­side.”

Paige was nom­i­nated for Sportsper­son of the Year by her mum, Car­olyn, and trains along­side her sis­ters.

They are coached by their dad, Stephen.

“She and her older sis­ter train to­gether most of the time and push off each other at times,” he said.

It is her at­ti­tude to­wards her suc­cess which is ad­mired.

“She doesn’t brag or big note her­self,” he said.

“Whether it’s on the track or at cross coun­try she doesn’t go to school and tell peo­ple how she went un­less they ask.

“She seems to be sat­is­fied with her own achieve­ments with­out hav­ing to tell peo­ple.”

When pre­par­ing for a com­pe­ti­tion, a train­ing week for Paige could in­volve an 8km run, an easy run of 5km, speed en­durance ef­forts, in­ter­vals at race pace or a lit­tle faster and sprints for pure speed.

Rest and re­cov­ery is just as im­por­tant as train­ing.

“You have al­ways got to make sure they have two days to re­cover be­cause men­tally and phys­i­cally they need a rest,” Stephen said.

Paige has also found suc­cess on the track and this was her third year com­pet­ing at the Queens­land State Track and Field Cham­pi­onships as a part of the 12 year girls’ 1500m, 800m and long jump team.

“I like it all but for ath­let­ics I’m all about 800m and above,” she said.

Paige has been in­volved in Lit­tle Ath­let­ics since she was in the un­der- six age di­vi­sion and cur­rently rep­re­sents the Nanango Lit­tle Ath­let­ics Cen­tre.

“It al­ways has a really good vibe and there are heaps of kids there and run­ning in gen­eral is heaps of fun and it is a good way to ex­er­cise,” she said.

Team sport is also a pas­sion for Paige and she plays soft­ball and net­ball.

She has rep­re­sented Nanango State High School and South Bur­nett in both sports.

Paige plays first base in soft­ball, a sport that com­bines her favourite things.

“Soft­ball in­volves run­ning, throw­ing and bat­ting and I like all of those things so when you put them to­gether it is really fun,” she said.

It is no sur­prise that cen­tre is one of Paige’s favourite net­ball po­si­tions to play be­cause she gets to run the full range of the court.

“It’s al­ways a good ex­tra sport to play and has a lot of dif­fer­ent po­si­tions that do a dif­fer­ent job,” she said.

PHOTO: CLAU­DIA WIL­LIAMS

ON TRACK: Paige O’Con­nor has found suc­cess in both cross coun­try and ath­let­ics.

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