SHOALHAVEN Head’s Karlee Symonds has officially announced her arrival on the track, following a sensational weekend at the NSW Junior Athletics Championships, held at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
The 15-year-old para-athlete claimed four gold medals, all in personal best times, as well as breaking three Australian records in the 200m, 400m and 800m.
Making the achievement even more impressive is the fact the Nowra High student, who runs as a T11 athlete, competed against girls much older than her in the under 20s para division – where she is required to run with a blindfold and a guide.
“This meet was the best I have ever had, largely due to the influence of my coaches Baz and Sharon with the AZ Athletics squad,” Symonds said.
On Saturday, she first won gold in the 200m, in a time of 34.19 – which saw her edge out Paralympic athlete Tamsin Colley.
“When we were in the waiting rooms, after the 200m, I had no idea how I had gone,” she said.
“But after they collated the times and the percentages, I was very happy that they called my name out first.”
This was backed up by her 800m victory, which saw Symonds break her own Australian record, set in September, by an incredible 18 seconds – finishing is 3:15.19.
Then on Sunday, Symonds won the 100m first, in a time of 16.58 (half a second off an Australia record) – edging out Paralympic athlete Erin Cleaver.
“After the race, I thought I had finished fourth or fifth but they called my name out in the gold position for the podium, which was amazing,” she said.
Karlee finished off the championship with gold in the 400m, in the impressive time of 1:20.30.
“Heading into the meet, I was a little nervous, having never used blocks competitively before, while only being back in training for four months,” she said.
“But I’m over the moon how it all went – these four medals are easily my greatest achievements to date.
“Because prior to this meeting, I had only ever gotten a silver and bronze medal in the 800m.”
Symonds, who uses guide Victoria Kennedy in the 800m and coach Baz for the sprint distances, will now turn her attention to nationals.
She also hopes to run at the Paralympics one day.