Track and field has always been a family affair for Alana Boyd so it was little surprise that when she broke her Australian pole vault record last January the achievement held extra significance.
Boyd had moved from Perth back to her Sunshine Coast home after the 2012 London Olympics to train with her father Ray, a two-time Olympic pole vaulter and Commonwealth Games champion who had introduced her to the event.
She had enjoyed success under revered coach Alex Parnov while based in Perth, having posted her first national record of 4.76 metres in the lead-up to the London Games where she placed 11th in the final.
But clearing 4.77m to set a new national mark at her home track at Sippy Downs on January 28 this year vindicated Boyd’s move back to train with her father and she describes the moment as “really meaningful”.
“I refer to my dad sometimes as ‘Poppa’ and it was [always] a ‘Poppa PB’ [before setting the new national record] and then in January it was a full PB, and it was great to have done it under my dad’s coaching and it was special,” Boyd told Grandstand.
“Obviously in that four years time I’ve won the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but have had injuries in that time as well. So it has been four years of ups and downs and I guess I probably have questioned at times whether I could get back to that form and to be able to do it.
“It was surprising but it wasn’t, in that I knew I was in good shape going into that meet, but to do it so early on in the season I was stoked and it really set me up for a consistent season.”
Not only is Boyd’s father an Olympian but so is her mother Denise, who represented Australia at two Games, including Moscow where she was joint flag bearer.
Denise Boyd (nee Robertson) made the final of the 200m at the Moscow and Montreal Games, finishing seventh on both occasions, and she is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever sprinters.
The younger Boyd will be making her third Games appearance in Rio de Janeiro, having become the first Australian athlete to join both her parents as Olympians in Beijing in 2008.
It is a feat that means much to the 32-year-old, who has never taken Olympics representation for granted despite dominating women’s pole vault in Australia for the past eight years.
“It’s fantastic,” Boyd said.
“I guess for me I know no different, but at the same time I also appreciate how special it is to be going to my third Olympic Games.
“I’m really proud of that achievement and obviously my parents having … been there and done that themselves, it is really special to be part of a family that I am a part of and they will be there to support me in Rio and they are extremely proud of me.”
Boyd confident of personal best in Rio
Boyd’s Australian record has her ranked equaled seventh in the world and she is confident a clearance of 4.80m, which would move her into the top five on the current 2016 standings, is possible in the build-up to the Rio Olympics, which commence on August 6 (AEST).
She had been hopeful of such a performance at March’s world indoor championships in Portland but a sprained ankle in the preliminary rounds forced her to withdraw.
The injury meant Boyd missed the Australian championships in Sydney the following month, where she would have been chasing a fifth national title, but the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist believes her preparations have been running smoothly since taking an enforced break after Portland.
“I feel like I could have jumped higher at the world indoors and the nationals and I never got to see what I could do,” said Boyd, who was 11th in the women’s pole vault final at last year’s world titles in Beijing.
“So I really do feel like jumping into the ’80s is absolutely achievable for me right now.
“So come Rio I still feel like I’ve got a little bit more work to do, a little bit more fine-tuning come out of a little bit of a heavier block in the gym and whatnot and feeling fresh coming into Rio, so I definitely feel like I’ve got the experience of competing at that higher level.”
Boyd is looking to compete at the Monaco and London legs of the Diamond League next month before joining the Australian squad in Florida for a pre-Rio camp a week before the Games get underway.