Just three years after winning her school’s cross country try outs, without any training, Kapunda’s Ella Leggett will be representing South Australia.
Ella will compete as part of the SSSSA (Secondary School Sport South Australia) Cross Country team, travelling to Tasmania, this month, and the 13-year-old said she was thrilled to qualify and looks forward to the trip.
“There’s going to be a lot of tough competition,” she said.
“I’ll try my hardest – I’m not sure I’ll get a good place because I didn’t know what the other (competitors) are going to be like.”
Ella rode horses until she was 11 – she was the equestrian vaulting national champion for her age at nine-year-old, so she knows what it takes to win.
However, baring recreational motorbike riding, Ella had never even played a sport before, let alone had anything to do with athletics or cross country when she decided to give the sport a go at Kapunda Primary School, and won.
Just a year later, the Kapunda High School year eight student finished second in the district, and first place the following season – she also placed in the top 20 at this year’s SAPSASA competition.
“I just ran and tried to stay at the front,” Ella said.
“It was good when I finished and got a little slip (at SAPSASA).”
Ella has been training three to four times a week, formerly with Gawler Little Athletics, and said she loves the sport and would love to compete for Australia, one day.
“I just go out and run my best – each time I go out a try to beat the last time I got,” she said.
“I just want to keep training and try to get better.”
Ella’s coach Dennis Thring has been working with the young talent for three years now, and he said she has definitely shown some potential.
"As you come through as a teenager you show what events you might have potential in, and I think she might have the potential for even longer events (than the 2km),” he said.
“She performed well at the selection events, but she’ll have to keep working hard.”
Mr Thring said he doesn’t expect Ella will be the fastest runner at the event, but hopes she uses the meeting to see how she compares to other athletes her age.
“Nationals will be a good experience for her – it’s always good to go there and show where you are (against other competitors),” he said.