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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Jessica Thornton dreams of Rio

Jessica Thornton dreams of Rio

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1 Jessica Thornton dreams of Rio on Fri Mar 11, 2016 3:00 pm


Teenager dreams of Rio

By Bridget Lacy
The West Australian
March 11, 2016

Rising star Jessica Thornton is striving to run in the Olympic 400m. Picture: Michael O’Brien/WA News

The idea of being in the starting blocks in the 400m heats at the Olympic Games in August is mind-blowing for teenager Jessica Thornton.

But what was once barely a dream could soon be a reality for the 17-year-old from Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

A 4x400m relay spot is a strong possibility, but Thornton has also stormed into calculations for an individual place on the Australian team.

Thornton’s 23.26sec. run in the 200m at the Canberra Track Classic last month has raised her hopes she can improve on her 400m best of 52.50 and hit the 52.20 Olympic-qualifier mark this season.

Her performances as a junior have drawn comparisons to Olympic gold medallist Cathy Freeman, who she credits as a major inspiration.

“I’m always looking at times, because I’m third in Australia at the moment,” Thornton said. “I was looking at a relay spot, but now with my 200m time jumping, hopefully that makes my 400m time jump as well and the individual spot is very close.

“Fingers crossed, we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks. It’s amazing. It’s still a shock to me.

“I’m only 17 so I would never have thought that I’d be potentially running at the Rio Olympics as an individual.”

Today, Thornton starts a hot favourite to take out the under-20 400m title at the junior national championships, which are being held at the WA Athletics Stadium this week, alongside tomorrow night’s Perth Track Classic.

She is hopeful of beating her best 400m run in Australia of 53.04, but knows it will be tougher without senior athletes around her.

The forecast of 31C is good news for the rising star.

“I love the hot weather,” she said. “I actually prefer it, which is a bit weird because other people hate it.

“I’ll have to see if I can potentially go that one step further without seniors pushing me along.

“I’ve put senior nationals at the back of my mind leading into this week because my focus is juniors at the moment.

“I guess after this week it will come back and I’ll be a bit more excited.

“For this week, I’m just going to stick to thinking about under 20s and hoping to make the team for the world juniors.”

The Youth Olympics gold medallist, who was restricted with a stress fracture in a leg in 2015, will back up in the 200m on Sunday.

She is studying nutrition science, but is considering deferring next semester if she earns a ticket to Rio de Janeiro, given she will also compete at the junior world championships in Poland in July.

2 Re: Jessica Thornton dreams of Rio on Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:29 pm


ANSW Statistician David Tarbotton just tweeted:

"Jess Thornton's 53.08secs (to win the Girl's Under 20's 400m) is the fastest winning time for 17 years and the fourth fastest in the 53-year history of the race."

It was a World Junior's qualifier, so she will be off to Poland later this year.

"Let's Go While We're Young"

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