SPRING IN STEP

Long jumper Naa Anang has her sights on a Games medal

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

LONG jumper Naa Anang stared down the dis­ap­point­ment of miss­ing an Olympic de­but in Rio this year with a 13cm im­prove­ment that has her right in the mix for a medal at next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games.

Anang, who re­cently joined stu­dents from 17 Gold Coast schools at a Com­mon­wealth Games “count­down chal­lenge” at the Su­per Sports Cen­tre at Run­away Bay, made her se­nior Aus­tralian de­but at the world cham­pi­onships in Lon­don ear­lier this year, fin­ish­ing 22nd in the long jump.

“I just re­ally wanted to take it in and not put too much pres­sure on my­self,” Anang said.

“I am still young, a lot of jumpers are older when they do re­ally well and I just wanted to en­joy my first world cham­pi­onships, take it all in and see what it’s like to com­pete at that level.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in think­ing ‘I have to do my best, I have to make the fi­nal’. But for me, it was just an achieve­ment be­ing there, so it was re­ally en­joy­able for me.”

Anang, who set a new per­sonal best jump of 6.68m in July, has a Com­mon­wealth Games A qual­i­fier (6.65m) and needs only to place in the top two at the se­lec­tion tri­als at Met­ri­con Sta­dium in Fe­bru­ary to be au­to­mat­i­cally nom­i­nated to the team.

“It’s not a given but you can have a bit of con­fi­dence know­ing that you al­ready have a qual­i­fier, your main goal now if just to get to na­tion­als and be fit,” Anang said.

“I can fo­cus a bit more on get­ting stronger and get­ting ready for na­tion­als as op­posed to try­ing to qual­ify by the end of this year.”

While Anang fol­lowed her older broth­ers into Lit­tle Ath­let­ics, she was in­tro­duced to jumps by her for­mer Bris­bane State High School coach and John Davis.

Now a mem­ber of Gary Bourne’s crack jumps squad, she is thriv­ing under the man she re­gards as the best coach in the world.

“Gary is so knowl­edge­able, but he’s so pa­tient, he used to be a teacher and you can re­ally see that side in him when he’s coach­ing you,” she said of the man who guided ar­guably Aus­tralia’s great­est fe­male jumper and Anang’s idol Bron­wyn Thomp­son.

“He’s prob­a­bly the best coach in the world, I’d say. I’m very bi­ased. It’s awe­some to be in that train­ing en­vi­ron­ment with other elite ath­letes.

“I think it makes a dif­fer­ence.”

Anang hopes to be able to test that the­ory on the Gold Coast next April. And this year’s world cham­pi­onships gave the Bris­bane prod­uct a taste of how a home crowds will get be­hind all their ath­letes.

“It was so good be­ing at world champs and see­ing the crowd and how they re­acted to their own team,” she said.

“Get­ting a taste of what it would be like here got me re­ally ex­cited about what’s com­ing (with the Com­mon­wealth Games).”

Pic­ture: JERAD WIL­LIAMS

Long jumper Naa Anang says her ex­pe­ri­ences at the world cham­pi­onships have given her a sense of how much of an ad­van­tage a home crowd pro­vides.

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