Star junior off to world titles
BALLINA athlete Jay Meaney surprised everyone including himself when he won two gold medals and a bronze at the Australian Junior Championships in Sydney.
He won the Under-18 400m in a personal-best time of 47.67 seconds.
Meaney anchored the Queensland U20 4x400m relay team which won gold and broke the meet record with a time of 3.14.81.
He finished third in the U18 200m.
He will now travel to the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, in July.
"I'm over the moon and definitely didn't expect it," Meaney said.
"I was just aiming for a PB in the 400m but I woke up and it was windy and raining.
"I just stuck to my tactics and it all paid off."
The World Junior Championships are contested by U20 athletes and the 17-year-old will still be eligible for the next World Juniors at Canada in 2014.
"I've never been overseas before so it's a good opportunity," Meaney said.
"I'll get to compete with some of the guys I look up to; I can't wait."
Meaney is coached by former Australian Olympian Glynis Nunn-Cearns, who won the heptathlon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
His performance at the Nationals will also qualify him to become a member of the Australian U19 talent squad.
Meaney trains twice a week in Ballina and with Nunn-Cearns at the Gold Coast on Saturdays.
"She teaches me a lot of the technical stuff and I respect her for what she has done," Meaney said.
"I've learnt a lot and she has taught me how to control the starts of my race to save more energy for the end."
He has been with Nunn-Cearns for 18 months and she was thrilled to take him on.
"He has improved dramatically and he is a nice kid from a good family," she said.
"He can follow a race plan and has the ability to interpret exactly what you mean.
"I was looking at getting him to the World Juniors in two years, so it's definitely a surprise.
"It will be a great experience for him and we'll start working on some new things at training.
"He might get a bit nervous as we get closer to July but that's normal and he will be with a team when he's over there.
"It's great for him to know that he is representing his country in the only sport that exists in every country in the world."
Meaney is already eyeing off competing in future Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
"Going pro would be pretty special," he said.
"I have another year of school and we'll see what happens from there," he added.