6 December 2017
Coaching by correspondence working for Klasen
The list of great Australian women sprinters to emerge from NSW country is long and remarkable. Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, Debbie Wells, Marjorie Jackson are just a few names and let’s hope the latest to arrive, Emma Klasen, 15, can follow them onto the national team.
Last month Klasen smashed her 100m and 200m personal bests. In the 100m she went from 12.23 to 12.00, but was more spectacular in the 200m taking her best from 25.02 to 23.91 – overlooking 24 seconds on the way. The later mark was a qualifier for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Living on a dairy farm, 30 kilometres outside of Tamworth is an idyllic life for a teenager growing up, but the distance means a long day for Emma Klasen.
“I love the farm and cannot imagine living in town (even though I probably will have to one day),” said Klasen. “There are no bus runs after school so usually I stay in town and wait for mum to drive me to the track.” After training, travel back home and dinner, homework is often not commenced until 9.00pm each night.
Klasen is coached by Sydney-based Michael Dooley, with the support of her mother Colleen.
“Correspondence coaching is a challenge but it is working for me. I am in constant contact with my coach Michael Dooley and he has been fantastic to work with. My mum has learnt the art of video conferencing! I am again lucky that my mum has taken on the role of supervising me. I am self-driven and I love training so I am happy to follow a program. At times I miss the companionship of a squad, but have been lucky enough to have a few local people come and train with me.”
Competitions offer more challengers for Klasen to overcome.
“The hardest part of living in Tamworth is the lack of competitions. I have to travel to Newcastle or Sydney to compete and fitting this in with training and other commitments is very difficult. I am lucky to have a supportive family, school and coaching staff. Initially my mum would drive down (to Sydney) on the Friday night and we would drive back Sunday. I was finding I was becoming tired and didn’t want my schooling adversely affected. I now travel down by plane as often as I can (there goes all my spending money) and I am so lucky to have the coaching staff and their families welcome me into their homes. They have been and are amazing and are like my Sydney family.”
Like so many of our seniors, Little Athletics was the starting point for Klasen.
“I became involved to Little Athletics because my older brother was competing. I would go along to his training and often I would still be training when he had had enough. I found I loved running. Other sports started to take a back-seat for me, although I still play basketball.”
She had early success winning state titles in the under-10s. “I competed in all events leading up to the under-15 division where I began to specialise in the 100 and 200m. Over the next few years she won state and national medals.
Her recent performances have been remarkable.
“I have been slowly improving over the last 12 months, concentrating on technique. The last few races I feel like it is starting to come together and I have enjoyed running.
“My goals this season are to get faster and aim for pb’s. I would love to be competitive at nationals in Adelaide and March in Sydney. I would also love to make the Youth Olympics next year and am aiming to try and run a qualifier for that in both the 100m and 200m.”
To add a 100m qualifier to go along with her 200m mark last month, Klasen needs to lower her pb from 12.00 to 11.85.
Away from the track, Klasen goes into year 10 in 2018 at Calrossy Anglican School in Tamworth and hopes to study physiotherapy when she leaves school.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: Emma Klasen NSW All Schools (courtesy of David Tarbotton)