AMAZING SUCCESS: In her first year competing in the heptathlon, Hanna Tait came fifth at the national championships in the under-17 age group.
AMAZING SUCCESS: In her first year competing in the heptathlon, Hanna Tait came fifth at the national championships in the under-17 age group. Tim Howard

Success brings decision time for a sporting all-rounder

ATHLETICS: Grafton Athletics Club athlete Hanna Tait is not sure she has found her sporting niche, but her performances in the heptathlon this year are helping her make a decision.

After winning the Queensland under-17 title in February, qualifying her for the national championships in Tasmania, Tait stunned everyone, including herself and coach Terry West, with a fifth place in the nationals.

"It's been a surreal experience,” she said of the surprise success. "I went down to Tassie for the experience and ended up doing way better than I expected.”

Tait has been a sporting all-rounder all her life, equally at home playing basketball, soccer, touch football or riding her horse at Ramornie.

The heptathlon, with its seven disciplines - 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m sprint, long jump, javelin and 800m run - fitted in with her all-rounder approach to sport.

"It's cool to have this success and I like the idea of a career in athletics,” she said.

"But I also don't like the idea of having to narrow down my sporting involvement.”

The Year 10 student was also concerned she needed to balance her sporting and academic life. "I would love to study environment and sports science at university,” she said.

Tait said athletics coaches were urging her to cut down on her other sports because they could interfere with athletic training and technique.

"I started to notice it this week,” she said. "After playing soccer I had some pains because I'd gone from straight line running to the stop and starts and turns in soccer.”

One of Tait's coaches, Terry West, said 2019 could be the "blooming year” for her.

"She's never won a state title before and never been to nationals before. Now she's done both in a couple of months,” he said.

But he warned his young charge had chosen the "hardest athletic event”.

"To give you an idea of the level of competition, when Daley Thompson won gold in the decathlon, he had times that would have made him a finalist in five Olympic events,” West said.

"That's how hard it is.”