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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Stawell 200m winner Mia Gross has her sights set on the Olympics

Stawell 200m winner Mia Gross has her sights set on the Olympics

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Geelong teenager's sights set firmly on the Olympics

BY  Sarah Bieske
The Weekly Review
April 28 2016

Athlete Mia Gross at Torquay. Photo: Reg Ryan.

Long legs outstretched, golden hair high in a ponytail, Mia Gross looks like any other Torquay teenager soaking up the autumn sun from a park bench at Front Beach. She lives just around the corner but, as one of the country’s up-and-coming athletes, sitting and enjoying the view isn’t something Mia gets much of a chance to do these days.

After an all-conquering season on the track, Mia can lay claim to being Australia’s top female sprinter for her age. When we meet she’s softly spoken and especially polite but it doesn’t take long to realise that behind the sweet, dimpled smile is a 15-year-old with big dreams and a steely determination to make them come true.

“I just love running and I love racing people; I just want to take it as far as I can go and put everything I’ve got into it,” Mia says. “I want to run for Australia. I want to run at the Olympics. That’s my ultimate goal.”

The Sacred Heart College student has had a summer to remember, with a string of wins cementing her as one of the region’s most exciting young talents on the track.

She took out the sprint double at the national junior titles in Perth in March, winning both the girls’ under-16 100-metre and 200-metre events, with a personal best time of 24.27 in the 200 metres. They were her first individual national titles. She was also favoured to win the 400 metres, but was disqualified after breaking in the heat.

“Winning the 100 metres and 200 metres was really exciting; I felt really strong and was really happy with how I ran,” Mia says. “It would have been pretty good to win all three so I was a little bit disappointed about missing out on the 400 metres but I tried not to think about it too much.”

Mia followed up her national wins with a surprise victory in the 200-metre open event at the Stawell Gift, one of the biggest weekends of racing on the Australian athletics calendar. More impressive is the fact she was the only female in the six-strong field in the final.

With her parents Hayden and Sheri watching on, Mia stormed through the opening rounds before taking out the final in 20.819 seconds.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Mia says of her win. “I just entered for a bit of fun and for the experience and Mum kept saying just to enjoy it and not expect too much. Then I made it to the semi-final and she said, ‘You probably won’t get past this one so just do your best’, and then I couldn’t believe I actually made the final. I knew being handicapped it would be a close finish and I didn’t even know if I’d won when I crossed the line but then everyone came out and hugged me so that’s when I realised I must have won.”

Mia was named Athletics Victoria’s most outstanding under-16 athlete for the 2015-16 season this month. It’s the confirmation she needed to know she’s on the right track to chase her Olympic dream.

It’s a dream she’s harboured for almost nine years, having started Little Athletics at Landy Field in the under-8s. Now coached by Joe Gulli, father of Geelong’s Commonwealth Games runner Jess Gulli, Mia dedicates two or three nights a week to training and competes most weekends. She also had coaching from Melbourne’s Glenn Oakley over summer and says training alongside the likes of Jess is inspiring.

“Jess has become a bit of a mentor and I just try to take in everything she does and the way she goes about training and competing,” Mia says. Mia broke Jess’ 100-metre Little Athletics record this year, but she’s under no illusions about the hard work and sacrifices necessary to one day compete on the world stage.

While her friends spend weekends shopping or going to parties, Mia says she does miss out on a lot of the carefree fun her schoolmates get to enjoy.

“But I know it’s all for something that I love,” Mia says. “Sometimes the girls at school will be talking about what they got up to on the weekend and I do sometimes feel like I miss out a bit, but I know it will be worth it.”

In size 11 shoes and standing 176 centimetres tall – and still growing – there’s no denying Mia’s physique is in her favour. Joe Gulli says he has no doubt Mia is destined for big things and shows maturity beyond her years. But he says allowing her to grow – not just physically but mentally – is the key to her development.

“For such a young athlete, she’s very level-headed and mature in her approach to how she trains and races and she’s definitely started on a wonderful journey,” Joe says.

“She needs time to develop her training and work on her strengths. Her success in the past few months solidifies in my mind that she’s in the right place to be able to progress and take everything in front of her.”

Athletics runs in Mia’s family, with her mum an accomplished junior athlete in Geelong, while her sister Olivia is a promising pole vaulter, finishing second in the under-15 event at the nationals. Mia says having her family at meets is one of her biggest motivators.

“I can always hear them cheering for me when I’m running down the straight; they’re always so loud but it’s great to have so much support,” Mia says.

Mia’s dreams of running in the green and gold might not be too far away, with the sprinter hopeful of competing in next year’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.


A belated story about Mia Gross. Maybe the hierachy felt more embarrassment about some more crap handicapping. It should be a great story but if it was her first run or year how could happen.

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