Leesa eyes world ti­tle

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

Porirua dis­cus thrower Leesa Lealaisalanoa is de­ter­mined that in­jury won’t stop her push for a world ti­tle in the next 12 months.

The cham­pion ath­lete holds the New Zealand open women’s dis­cus ti­tle and record ( af­ter break­ing Beatrice Fau­muina’s record), the un­der-19 women’s ti­tle, and the New Zealand Sec­ondary School’s Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion ti­tle, and is plan­ning to de­fend them this sum­mer in the leadup to se­lec­tion for her ma­jor goal – the IAAF World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in Spain in July next year.

Af­ter a self-con­fessed dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance, com­ing 15th in a field of 32 at the Ju­nior World Champs in Canada last year with a throw of 48 me­tres, Leesa says she wants an in­ter­na­tional win more than ever, and is pre­par­ing to put in some hard yards to make her mark.

Her best throw is 52m, and she be­lieves she can add dis­tance to that.

‘‘I didn’t do quite as well as I could have and it kind of woke me up to where I want to be and where I was.

‘‘It def­i­nitely opened my eyes to do more train­ing and step up. It drove me and when I came back I was gut­ted, and quite up­set, but I strove from there to do bet­ter and ended up break­ing the New Zealand open women’s dis­cus throw.

‘‘Now I’d like to take that world ti­tle next year.’’

The 17-year-old is cur­rently train­ing al­most three hours a day, six days a week, but has been nurs­ing an in­jury through the off sea­son, which she ad­mits will make her goal one step harder.

In April she took a heavy fall on to her knee un­der the weight of a five- girl rugby tackle, and dis­lodged her kneecap from the socket, tear­ing the tis­sue un­der­neath. She had just in­tro­duced run­ning to her train­ing but that has had to take a back seat to re­cov­ery, work­ing hard on re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

‘‘I know be­cause of this in­jury I’m not as strong as be­fore, so I know I need to put more work in, but it’s go­ing re­ally well.

‘‘It de­layed our train­ing plans, but I feel it’s made me stronger. I’m more de­ter­mined.’’

Se­lec­tion for the New Zealand world ju­niors team will take place in March next year af­ter the sum­mer sea­son, and Leesa hopes to con­vince the se­lec­tors she has what it takes.

‘‘I have a re­ally good chance of mak­ing the team, and mak­ing an im­pact at the cham­pi­onships.’’

As well as train­ing to reach top form, Leesa is also aware of the chal­lenges of cov­er­ing the cost of in­ter­na­tional travel. She says while grants and do­na­tions from trusts helped to raise the $10,000 re­quired for the trip in 2010, she isn’t count­ing any chick­ens be­fore they’re hatched, and has al­ready started ap­ply­ing for fund­ing again.

Strong am­bi­tion: New Zealand’s top women’s dis­cus thrower Leesa Lealaisalanoa is ramp­ing up her train­ing in prepa­ra­tion for a sea­son she hopes will in­clude a world ti­tle.

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