National glory awaits

Andi ready to take off for a lap around Banjo Paterson Lake, where she has been completing her cross-country training. 289912_01 Pictures: MARCUS UHE

By Marcus Uhe

Grade four student at St Francis De Sales primary school in Lynbrook, Andi Mole, has qualified for the Australian Cross Country Championships in August.

Andi overcame nerves to finish fifth in the state championships at Yarra Glen Racecourse on Thursday 14 July, qualifying her for the national finals in Adelaide, and received a hero’s welcome when she arrived back at school.

“I’d been thinking about that (race) for the whole last week and the holidays,” Andi said.

“I was starting, and I was in front, but then some girls had some more energy to catch up.”

A basketballer and footballer in her spare time, the nine-year-old took up distance running as a student at the school.

Her training has included running around Banjo Paterson Lake, across the road from the school, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before class, with music teacher Kristy Galea following her on a bike, providing encouragement along the way.

Andi said she’s excited for the national championships next month, and keeps her motivations simple.

“Just do your best. Think about, how far you’ve gotten and it doesn’t really matter.”

School principal Christine White said the entire school was behind Andi in her quest for the national crown.

“We’re all ecstatic,” Ms White said.

“We’re so proud of her and what she’s achieved.

“There was an overwhelming feeling of joy from everyone at what she’s accomplished.

“She’s a very determined girl; she set herself big personal goals and it’s her own determination and perseverance that’s got her where she is.”

The Australian Cross Country Championships will be held at Oakland Racecourse in Adelaide on August 27.