Leesa eyes world title
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.