National Cross Country Champion

Posted on August 29, 2016

The 2016 Cross Country season ended on a high note for Year 12 student James Neethling when he took gold at this year’s National Championships in Canberra.

After four years of combining rugby and cross country, with some excellent results, James decided to focus his sporting efforts solely on his running in 2016. In hindsight, this proved to be a very wise decision!

Thanks to a more targeted training regime, James improved his fitness for cross country. He benefited from being pushed and encouraged by his fellow senior cross country team members, which helped him develop his ability to deal with the pressures of competition.

Selected to represent NSW in the 3km AWD race at the Cross Country National Championships in Canberra, James faced some very tough competition. Strong winds, freezing temperatures and the undulating course at Stromlo Forest Park made for a very difficult race.

The three kilometre race distance was not ideal for James, who prefers longer distances and generally starts performing well against competitors after around seven kilometres. His race strategy therefore was to start much faster than usual to lead after the first kilometre, maintain pace in the second kilometre and finish as strong as possible. Fortunately it was the right strategy. He was ahead by 22 seconds by the first kilometre mark, and maintained that lead for most of the race. The superior sprinters from Queensland started gaining ground towards the end, cutting the lead to 17 seconds, then 12 at the start of the final straight. James crossed the line in first place, nine seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

James is very grateful for the support of his brother Alex (Y12), his parents, and his senior cross country team members. He is particularly grateful for the coaches, Mr Barry Hughes and especially Mr Craig Attwater, for their expert coaching and advice.

After completing the cross country season on a high note, James turned his attention to the athletics season. He said he looks forward to running longer distances after he finishes school.