The Australian representatives for the Doha World Championships were announced on Tuesday, with 19 New South Wales athletes selected to compete against the world’s best later this month.
One of the youngest members is 19-year-old sprinter and former Little Athlete Kristie Edwards, who will feature as part of the 4x100m relay team.
Currently studying Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Technology Sydney, Edwards has flourished during a stellar 12 months of competitive athletics. She represented Australia at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Finland, the 2019 World Relays in Japan and the 2019 Oceania Champs in Townsville.
At the World Junior Champs, Edwards and the Australian 4x100m relay team placed seventh and ran an Australian U20 record of 44.78.
A budding netballer during her youth, Edwards joined Manly LAC in 2009 after placing third in the NSW State PSSA Championships 100m event. Although she posed a significant threat to opponents on the track, Edwards cherished the opportunity to dabble in all facets of athletics.
“I loved my Little Athletics experience; I wish I could still do it. It’s just a really fun way to do athletics,” said Edwards.
“I just loved being able to go down there every Saturday and have a go at everything. I might have been a sprinter, but I also loved doing the throws. I think javelin is one of my favourite events – I’m not very good at it, but it was fun to have a go.
“Manly Little A’s was amazing; they were always so supportive of everything that I did.”
After growing her passion for sprinting, Edwards was selected for the New South Wales Trans Tasman team that competed against a touring New Zealand squad in 2011. In her first meet against international opposition, Edwards won gold in the 100m and 200m events, blitzing her opponents and teammates.
However, the sprinter’s accomplishments on the track aren’t her fondest Trans Tasman memory.
“We took them out for the day and went down to Manly Waterworks and had a good day out there on the water slides,” said Edwards.
“It was just a lot of fun getting to meet people from different countries because it was your first experience of what it was like to run against another country.”
It was recently announced that the upcoming 2020 Trans Tasman tour to Auckland will be the last, ending a long-standing Little Athletics tradition that dated back to 1976.
With 14 gold medals at LANSW State Championships, Edwards could be considered one of the greatest ever Little Athletes to come through the program. She broke multiple all-time LANSW records, including at the 2010 State Track & Field Championships in Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre where she ran 28.22 in the U10 Girls 200m Final.
Two years later, Edwards and the Manly-Warringah LAC Junior Girls 4x100m Relays team set another all-time LANSW record with a time of 54.62. In 2013, another record was crushed by Edwards and her teammates, this time in the Senior Girls 4x100m Relay with a time of 48.69.
As of 2019, none of these records has been broken.
Edwards was inevitably selected to represent NSW at the 2013 Australian Little Athletics Championships in Canberra, winning gold in 200m Final and silver in the 100m Final.
Representing Pymble Ladies College, Edwards went on to dominate the 2017 NSW All Schools Championships, placing first in the 100m and 200m sprints, registering a PB in both events. It was a performance that granted her a spot in the NSW State Team for the Australian All Schools Championships in Adelaide.
“It was a really good experience to just meet other people in the sport – a lot of my friends I actually made through All Schools,” said Edwards.
“The team environment when you go away to the Nationals was always a lot of fun.”
Edwards is coached by former Australian Olympians Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Andrew Murphey. Gainsford-Taylor still holds the Australian all-time 100m and 200m records and has been instrumental to Edwards’ sporting development.
“I’ve been with Mel since I was nine years old – she’s been a massive mentor for me, and I’ve learned a lot from her. She has so much experience and knowledge; it’s been amazing to learn from what she’s gone through and see her advice for things,” said Edwards.
“I’m obviously trying to take the same path as her, so she has a lot of good insight and can help me a lot along the way.”
The transition from Junior to Senior athletics hasn’t fazed Edwards; she’s been competing against more experienced athletes for years and doesn’t mind being one of the youngest on the track.
“I had been running against some of those older girls for a while now at NSW meets… being able to compete against those older girls gives you that confidence,” said Edwards.
“Obviously it will be a bit of a step up, but that also means I have to step up my training, so I can be as good as those older girls because they are so good. They’re all super talented, so hopefully I can still do well up in the Opens as well.”
While the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is certainly not out of the question for Edwards, her primary short-term goal is to be a part of as many Australian teams as possible.
“I’m still quite young, but I’d obviously love to make an Olympics one day.”
Photos: Getty Images, David Tarbotton, Darren Wensor
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