Athlete makes point with javelin
When Laura Overton picked up a javelin at a school sports day a couple of years back she had no idea what it would lead to.
Laura, 16, is a kid like many who enjoys trying her hand at most sports when the opportunity arises, but in her situation whenever she has a crack she generally excels.
Where the javelin is concerned, it is certainly the case.
When she won a South Island secondary schools title, the Southland Girls' High School student realised she wasn't too bad at it.
The development has continued and last month she attended her first international meet - the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
Laura didn't just attend and enjoy the sights in Sydney, she reaffirmed her status as a rising talent in the javelin field.
She headed to the Australian Youth Olympic Festival with a personal best of 41.53m and came away with a new personal best of 45.13m and a bronze medal.
Not surprisingly, it was a confidence boost and the tonic to ensure she will be hungry for more success.
"It was a really good experience," Laura said yesterday. "I wasn't sure what to expect out of the other athletes because of the international competition, but I threw a PB.
"I had to throw a PB to get up in the medal placing."
Laura has heaped plenty of praise on her coach, Gore-based Murray Speden, for her rise in the sport.
Many times yesterday during an interview with The Southland Times she turned the focus back to what Speden had done to make her a better thrower.
"He's a really good coach, I've learnt heaps off him," Laura said.
"[Javelin's] really technical. When I first did it I didn't really throw it that far, but I kept increasing and now that Murray coaches me, I've improved a lot with my technique."
The focus now switches to the New Zealand championships next month, when Laura has set her sights on improving her showing at the same event last year.
"I'm hoping to do well there," she said. "I'd like to win the women's 17 [grade].
"I went there last year and I got second and so this time I'd like to win it."
Laura's sporting exploits don't end with her throwing the javelin.
When her current athletics campaign comes to a halt the focus will quickly switch to netball and basketball, which she excels at during the winter months.
She was also a Southland champion in tennis, but her rise up the ranks in the javelin has meant that has had to take a back seat now.
- The Southland Times