LEARNING CURVE: Ipswich high jumper Cassie Purdon gains valuable experience representing Australia at her first Commonwealth Games.
LEARNING CURVE: Ipswich high jumper Cassie Purdon gains valuable experience representing Australia at her first Commonwealth Games. DEAN LEWINS

Gritty Ipswich athlete urged to chase Olympic dream

COMMONWEALTH GAMES: QAS coach Gary Bourne urged Ipswich high jumper Cassie Purdon to "stick with it'' and chase her Tokyo dream after a promising Commonwealth Games debut.

The Lanefield athlete finished sixth at Carrara Stadium on Saturday afternoon. She cleared 1.84m before missing her three attempts at 1.87m.

"She was very close to 1.87,'' Bourne said, being at the Games venue as Australian jumps coach.

"She was really close to her PB (1.88m) on her first senior international team.

"There was a bit of pressure with the home crowd and all the rest of it but I think she jumped really well.''

Bourne praised Purdon's performance given the horrible injury setbacks she had to contend with.

"When she came to us at QAS (two years ago), she had a stress fracture in her back, Achilles tendinopathy, she had an ankle injury and she had a patella (problem),'' he said.

"It took more than a year to get her to the point where she could start to train at a reasonable level. She's not yet back to where she needs to be but this has been a great experience for her.''

Bourne would like to see the former Faith Lutheran College student continue in a bid to make the Australian team for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

"I did tell her that I hoped she would stick with it,'' he said.

"There's been enough encouragement in recent times with her jumping that would show her that she's got a bit more to come yet.''

Purdon also showed how much she appreciated representing Australia. The 21-year-old clapped the crowd after her jumps and even did a little jig when she cleared 1.84m.

"It's pleasing to me that she's enjoying her sport,'' Bourne said. "That's the most important thing . . . not to forget why they started.

"They started because it's a personal challenge and they enjoy doing it.''

Former Ipswich and Lockyer District Athletic Club representative Purdon had hoped to match or better her personal best at the Games.

However, replicating her 1.88m PB on Saturday would still have left Purdon out of the medals, which were won by her Aussie teammate Nicole McDermott (bronze with a personal best 1.91m), behind Saint Lucia gold medallist Levern Spencer (1.95m) and Eng-land's Morgan Lake (1.93m).

Bourne was delighted Purdon competed in such a quality event. "It was a good competition. That's world class stuff,'' he said.

Spencer's gold medal-winning jump was just shy of the Games record (1.96m).

As a full-time coach, Bourne said athletes like Purdon can benefit from elite assistance.

"To be able to do the work required to get these kids into these sort of teams and then eventually onto the podium requires a lot of work,'' Bourne said.

"You need a whole support network around you in sports science, in sports medicine and other things to help these kids get the job done.''



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