A PODIUM finish would be a dream come true for Alana Boyd in London, but even the pole vaulter admits she would likely have to better her Australian record to achieve it.
Boyd became the highest soaring Australian female in late February when she cleared 4.76m at an intraclub meet at the WA Athletics Centre, bettering the previous national record of Kym Howe at 4.72m.
It was the culmination of an incredible season by Boyd, who cleared the Olympic qualifying height of 4.50m six times.
But while the Commonwealth champion said the strong performances had given her a confidence boost ahead of the Olympics, she admitted she would likely have to improve further to leave London with a medal.
“A podium finish would be fantastic,” Boyd said.
“I think 4.75m came third at the last Olympics and last year at the world championships.
“The standard has probably improved since then and in an Olympic year, everyone steps it up a bit.
“It’s probably going to take a little higher to finish in the medals, but you also don’t know and the conditions may not be conducive to high jumping and it could be just a matter of holding form and nerve.
“Anything can happen in a final, particularly at an Olympic Games, and having the experience of competing at an Olympics before and a number of other international events, hopefully that will hold me in good stead.”
Boyd and training partner Liz Parnov have been deep in preparations at Steve Hooker’s exclusive facility at a the Midland Railway Workshops, with the empty warehouse converted to a state of the art pole vaulting bunker.
The setup proved fruitful for Hooker, who had a special meet sanctioned at the venue by Athletics WA earlier this month and cleared the Olympic qualifying mark of 5.72m.
But a week later, in his first competition of the year in an uncontrolled environment, Hooker failed to register a height at Shanghai’s Diamond League.
Boyd, who moved to Perth from Brisbane in late 2009, denied the facility jeopardised preparations by removing the environment found in competition.
“Moving over here, training over here, and having the great tailwind that we tend to get in the afternoon over here in Perth … when your technique is not completely solid and you’re really trying to cement that, it allows you to do 50 out of 50 jumps perfectly, rather than 30 out of 50,” she said.
“The more perfect jumps you have, as Alex says, you put more in the good bucket, and you’re going to come out on top.
“I think it’s only a positive for us.”
Parnov set a personal best of 4.50m in February to qualify for the Games and heads to London as one of the youngest members of the team at just 18-years-old.
The teenager, whose father Alex coaches the remarkable pole vault stable, said it was an ideal situation for her as she gained valuable experience with minimal pressure.
“I just had my exams for uni and it hasn’t really sunk in that I’m going to the Olympics,” Parnov said.
“But I’m starting to pack now and I’m getting a bit nervous because it’s all coming around so fast.
“I’m going over there for experience and just to learn and it feels good going into a major championships without any expectations or pressure.
“I love it and I feel like I’m really lucky to be in the position that I’m in, to be 18 and going to an Olympics is not something that everyone can experience.”
by: Glen Foreman