Tyagarah youngster taking it all in his stride
By STEVE SPINKS
FOLLOWING your dream is never easy.
Just ask Tyagarah's Adam Szlezak.
The 17-year-old has a dream of being the best 110m hurdler in the world.
But he knows it's going to be a long road.
Most top hurdlers don't reach their peak until their late 20s.
Which means Szlezak has a good 10 years of gut-busting training ahead if he wants to make it to the big time.
"It's a bit daunting," the Mullumbimby High School student admitted.
"But I want to run as quick as I can."
Szlezak took his first step towards the top recently after he earned selection in the Australian team to contest the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo from November 29.
He will contest the 110m hurdles and the 4 x 100m relay against athletes from 24 countries over seven days. The Youth Games are an Under-19 event.
The Year 12 student, who has just completed the Higher School Certificate, will be re-uniting with another former Mullumbimby High product.
Athens gold medallist and Mullumbimby girl Petria Thomas is the Australian team manager.
Szlezak forced his way into the Australian team after a brilliant year.
He is ranked number one in Australia in the Under-18s and Under-20s, while he also ran third in an open age event at a Telstra A Series meet in Sydney earlier this year.
The A Series race doubled as a selection trial for the Olympics.
But running, hurdling, training and sport is not all there is to the confident Szlezak.
He wants to go to university, but not to study your run of the mill degree.
"I want to study Biomedical Science," Szlezak said.
The talented athlete, and academic it seems, has been offered direct entry into Griffith University.
The University of Queensland (UQ) also want him on their track team, but Szlezak said he won't be swayed by athletics.
"I don't really want to go to uni on a sports scholarship," he said.
"If you get injured they push you to get back.
"I want to have a balance between sport and study."
However, UQ does have other advantages.
Their athletics team is ranked as one of the best in Australia, and their training facilities are also first class.
Whatever institution he decides to attend, it will definitely make things easier for his mother Wendy and father Ed.
Three to four times a week the duo have driven him either to the Gold Coast or Brisbane for training.
"They've been really supportive," Szlezak said.
"I couldn't have done anything without them."
It seems it's not just a long road to the top for Szlezak, but for his parents as well.