Winning seven state medals within the space of a week has Bundaberg’s Kharla Hills primed for this month’s Australian Track and Field Championships in Sydney.
The 17-year-old Shalom College student is gearing up for a big performance at the championships, to be held at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre from April 12-19, where she will compete in the under-18 women’s triple jump, long jump, 100m and 200m events.
Kharla qualified for the Australian championships with two silver medals, a bronze medal and a fourth placing at the Queensland Athletics Championships from March 11-14 at Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre in Brisbane.
Her silver medals came in the under-18 girls’ triple jump (11.26m) and 200m (25.2sec), her bronze in the long jump (5.43m), and although missing out on a medal in the 100m (12.48sec), her time was fast enough time to qualify for Sydney.
Kharla then backed up to secure four gold medals at the McDonald’s Little Athletics State Championships at the same venue from March 19-21, winning the under-17 girls’ triple jump (11.31m), long jump (5.43m), 100m (12.59sec) and 200m (25.62sec).
The gifted athlete said she was pleased to finish her Little Athletics state championships career on a high note, having now graduated from the event’s oldest age division.
“Getting gold in my last ever state championships, I was really happy with that,” Kharla said.
“I got good times for my runs and good distances for my jumps. I was hoping for PBs and better distance, especially in the triple jump because that’s my main event.”
Kharla may have narrowly missed her PB (personal best) in the triple jump but her effort was enough to claim a Queensland Little Athletics record in her age division and she almost bettered her best mark in claiming the 200m title.
Kharla’s effort in the 200m followed on from her silver medal over the same distance at the Queensland Athletics Championships – her first track medal at the championships.
“In the 200m I’ve been fourth for multiple years in a row and this year I just pushed a bit harder – worked harder, trained harder – and I got the silver which was good,” she said.
“I didn’t do as well as I hoped in the triple jump but the conditions were a bit rough and I can’t help that.”
Kharla battles through conditions to come out on top
Not only did Kharla have to contend with the strong winds and rain that prevailed on the day, she is also battling to overcome hamstring and calf injuries that affected her preparations going into both state championships and have prevented her from training on the track for more than three weeks.
However, as she has proved with her recent results, Kharla is still mixing it with the best and is hopeful of competing strongly in Sydney.
“I’m very excited,” she said.
“But I’ve got to work really hard, train really hard, in such a short amount of time (until the championships),” Kharla said.
“I want to be able to place in the triple jump, get on the podium for that, because it’s my biggest thing.
“But I’d be just happy with anything really – PBs especially, because that’s a big thing for me.”
Kharla, who travels occasionally to south east Queensland to compete in high level events as a member of the Queensland A athletics squad, said her coaches Rob Hooper (jumps) and Rebecca Jenner (track) had contributed significantly to her success.
“Those two have inspired me my whole life basically,” she said.
“They help me in everything I do and I just want to say thank you to them for everything.”
Kharla’s sporting prowess is not limited to athletics, her speed and skills also earning her Central Queensland selection in touch football.
Unfortunately for Kharla, she was unable to compete for CQ at the annual Inferno National Touch League event at Coffs Harbour due to it clashing with the Queensland Athletics Championships.
Although having opted for athletics over touch, Kharla said she did not have any specific goals for her track and field career.
“I’m just taking it as it comes,” she said.
“I just want to keep pursuing it because I love it and it’s what I do.
“I’ve done it since I was six or seven, so I just want to keep going until I can’t.”
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