As the sunshine beat down on the Athletics Centre at Sydney Olympic Park, four aspiring athletes embraced the heat to run alongside sprint sensations and NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) athletes Rohan Browning and Ella Connolly.

Sprinter Boady Dunne, siblings Sophie and Max McAneney and middle distance specialist Trent Alley lined up on the one hundred metre straight to participate in a peak velocity test, which assesses their capacity to hold speed.  

The sprint session was part of a three day Pursu32+ workshop, which the aspiring athletes were invited to as part of the selection to the NSWIS and Regional Academies of Sport Talent Program.  

“This experience is completely life changing,” 14-year-old Trent Alley said.  

“I’ve learned so many new skills that I can take into the world and apply to myself to make me a better athlete. It’s completely amazing that I’m a part of this opportunity and I’m so pleased to be a part of it. 

“I can get a feel of what it’s like to be in an elite training environment and that’s really great to have a coach like him [Andrew Murphy] watching.” 

Alley, who first started running in the Tots Program at Port Macquarie Little Athletics, loves the tactics of middle distance racing. The teenager, who plays AFL and soccer on weekends, trains six days a week, running at least 8km a day.  

“It may consist of easy running intervals or long runs. And also gym and strength.” 

His efforts were rewarded when he won gold in the U14 1500m and silver in the U14 800m at the 2023 National Australian Little Athletics Championships. 

“You can get into a rhythm in middle distance running. There’s maybe a tactical race or a fast race. So I like that thrill of not knowing what’s to come – you work it out in the race.  

“So it could be a slow race. So we go slow at the start and then we do a kick at the end or we could just go fast from the start. We chop and change what tactics I do depending the competitors I’m facing.” 

The Pursu32+ Skills Workshop has provided Alley and co. the opportunity to experience a high performance training environment. They have received skills based education not just on the track, but also about the importance of nutrition, recovery and time management.  

“We’ve been doing many workshops on running and learning about time management and all that. I’ve got a lot of things out of it and I’m very happy.  

“The workshops have taught me how to manage schoolwork, training, eating and the importance of prioritising – there was a graph showing urgent, important, delegate, and important. So we’ve learnt like what to place into those categories.  

“I focus on school work first and just go out and do the run when I can.” 

Alley, who loves middle distance and also enjoyed hurdles as a younger athlete, has recently turned himself to the steeplechase and lists a recent performance at nationals as one of his most memorable. 

“When I won the steeplechase that was pretty special because I’ve been waiting to do that event for a long time because it’s a mix of hurdles and middle distance yeah so that’s very special.” 

With the Olympics a few years off, Alley is focusing on nationals in 2024 and then representing Australia.  

“It’s exciting. Next year I want to be peaking for nationals, which is the pinnacle of athletics and then also the Australian Little Athletics Championships. Representing Australia would be great, maybe in the steeplechase and just keep having fun that’s the main thing during the sport.  

When he’s not running, Alley is hanging with his mates in Port Macquarie, playing sport.  

“I like to do team sports on the weekend, play with my friends, soccer, AFL. I’m a striker in soccer and midfield in AFL for the Port Saints.”

Frances Cordaro, NSWIS

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