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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Kiara Reddingius has come a long way since riding trackwork in Kalgoorlie

Kiara Reddingius has come a long way since riding trackwork in Kalgoorlie

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Rio a long way from menagerie

By Steve Butler
The West Australian
March 3, 2016

WA heptathlon champion Kiara Reddingius. Picture: Ian Munro

From the far reaches of the WA bush, an unlikely sporting star has emerged as one of the State’s next big things in athletics.

Kiara Reddingius, a former Kalgoorlie trackwork rider from Leonora, admits she virtually “tripped over” a burgeoning career as a heptathlete.

Now she is a major stumbling block for her competitors and has become an outside chance to get to the Rio Olympics in August.

“I would never have thought I could get to where I am now,” the WA heptathlon champion said.

“It’s taken me a long time to believe but if I want something, I go after it.”

Reddingius, 24, played little organised sport growing up in Leonora, where parents Rosemary and Rene are teachers.

A far greater constant was the menagerie on the family farm, which inspired her to study conservation and wildlife biology.

“We’ve got horses, camels, alpacas, ferrets, lots of birds, pigeons, peacocks, rabbits, guinea pigs, kangaroos, emus, dogs and cats ... pretty much anything that needs a little bit of help,” the second youngest of six siblings said.

But after moving to Perth for university in 2011, a chance meeting with veteran WA coach Matt Barber, who mentored dual Olympian Dean Capobianco, led to an athletics fast-track.

Reddingius knew practically nothing about heptathlon when Barber told her he instantly saw it as her calling.

She said Barber had built her belief and body to a point she felt anything in her gruelling, seven-leg sport was possible.

“I’m addicted to it,” Reddingius said. “Matt’s optimistic, but also realistic, and sometimes when he talks about my potential I just think he’s crazy.

“But I’m just really lucky to have found Matt because no one else would have seen that talent in me.”

Reddingius will run in this month’s Stawell Gift race before the national heptathlon championship in Sydney days later where victory could get her a ticket to Rio.

Australia has a rich female heptathlon history, with Glynis Nunn an Olympic and Commonwealth champion, Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jane Flemming and Jane Jamieson and four-times national title-winner Kylie Wheeler, who helps Reddingius as Athletics WA competitions manager.

Heptathlons comprise 100m hurdles, high jump, shot-put, 200m sprint, long jump, javelin and 800m run.

Reddingius’ best score of 5247 points is well short of Olympic qualification, though small improvements across all events can mean a big jump in points.

But Reddingius says though she is a competitive beast, her sporting journey will not define her. “It’s never been just about the Olympics,” she said.

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