3 January 2018
Balance is the key for Carley
It takes no time into a chat with Carley Thomas to appreciate you are speaking with a level headed and well-balanced young person. Fortunately for our sport, she is also a very talented athlete and brings that approach to her sport.
Ahead of a busy summer season, we asked Carley Thomas (UTN) to reflect on a standout 2017 campaign, highlighted by a win on the world stage and a magnificent 2:03.66 800m personal best in December which marked her as the fifth fastest junior in Australian history.
“It’s been a super exciting season, it’s actually a bit crazy when I think about it, but I’ve really enjoyed every moment, which has been vital for my development as it’s given me the drive to keep working,” reflected Thomas this week.
“I’m proud of all of the things I’ve achieved and my results this season have been so rewarding but the best part is all of the experiences I’ve gained, I was able to travel and make new friends and I’ve learned a little bit more from each race.”
Her first step onto the international stage returned a pair of gold medals and great memories.
“The highlight of this season would have to be the Commonwealth Youth Games. It was an incredible experience and one that I learnt so much from and made life-long friends not to mention the pretty nice destination of the Bahamas! It was awesome coming home with gold in the 4x400m relay and 800m and one of the best parts was standing up on the podium with my 4x400m team mates and the Australian National Anthem playing during the closing ceremony with everyone watching – that was pretty cool!”
But a few weeks ago she closed the year in spectacular fashion, slicing 1.4 seconds from her 800 metres personal best and at the age of just 16 (she now has since turned 17), becoming the fifth fastest junior (under-20) in Australian history (see the rankings below).
Her performance was in a top-class field in Victoria, where she was racing Georgia Griffith (2:00.90 in 2017) and Keely Small (2:01.46).
“Heading into Melbourne I wasn’t setting myself any limits or expectations, I just wanted to go out and take the opportunity to give it my best. I was excited to be racing in such a strong field with all the other girls. I knew that I was very capable of a PB and these were the perfect circumstances to do so; I really just trusted myself and my training and gave it a crack.”
Over the last 13 months she has removed seven seconds from her 800m best and on four occasions lowered her 400m PB. How does she account for this progression?
“I think the key for me is that I’ve been slowly progressing over time. I’m in no rush to be breaking any world records! I’m still a junior so I’m just trying to do my best without getting ahead of myself. I have also been given really good advice by experienced and knowledgeable people along the way and I have trusted in that. I have the best support network around me including my family and friends, Coach Penny (Gillies) and my training group who have all helped me to reach my goals.”
What does 2018 have in store for Thomas?
“This is my Higher School Certificate year so I want to focus on balancing my studies and my goals in athletics, so I can reach my potential in both areas. My goal is to continue to improve where I can and maybe compete at the World Under-20 Championships in Finland in July this year.”
There is however, no mention of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Although she is close to the B standard of 2:02.40, which has been achieved by five athletes, along with one athlete (Georgie Griffiths) sitting on an A standard, there is a wall of athletes in front of her. But with a ‘no limits’ attitude, and her rate of progression this summer anything looks possible.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Carley Thomas 800m gold medallist 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games.
Australian Under-20 All Time List – Women 800m
2:01.1 Michelle BAUMGARTNER V 11.02.82
2:01.46 Keely SMALL A 11.04.17
2:01.78 Georgia WASSALL N 15.03.14
2:01.81 Georgie CLARKE V 15.01.00
2:03.66 Carley THOMAS N 19.12.17
2:03.66 Sarah BILLINGS V 11.06.17
2:03.94 Zoe BUCKMAN A 11.03.07
2:04.0 Melissa BAKER V 22.03.92
2:04.0 Vicki FREEBORN S 26.02.94
2:04.26 Alison CHIU V 11.02.95
2:04.37 Katherine KATSANEVAKIS V 19.01.06
2:04.46 Jenny ORR V 31.08.72