On track for glory Gindie runner ranked among best in nation
DAMON Gale is sprinting into the spotlight.
The Gindie (near Emerald) product, who attends St Brendan's College in Yeppoon, has been ranked the third fastest under-18 male in the 400m running event in the country after representing Queensland at the Australian All Schools Championships at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne earlier this month.
The national competition had the best school-aged track and field starters battle for glory and is considered the pinnacle of Australia's Athletics development pathway.
Gale, who is coached by Yeppoon's Ian Quinton, began his journey to the national championships when he won the 400m event at the St Brendan's College athletics carnival.
While he was unable to compete at the Rockhampton Districts championships, Gale's times made him eligible for the Capricornia titles, where he clinched another victory.
He then represented Capricornia at the State Championships at Brisbane in October, where he set a personal best time to win his heat before setting another personal best to take out the final.
The Australian All Schools Championships had him run third in his heat in a time of 49.65s. Gale was able to step it up in the final, to finish the event in third place with another personal best time of 49.41s.
"While I hoped for a top four finish, I never thought I would even win the heat at the state titles," Gale said.
"My aim was to just run and give it my best. It was such a great experience. Next year, I'm hoping I can break 47sec, but I realise that is a lot of time off my personal best.
"I've always enjoyed athletics and sports in general - as long as it involves running."
Gale's sporting talent extends beyond athletics.
The 16-year-old is also a keen cricketer and a gifted rugby union winger who featured in the Queensland Country team that defeated Queensland City for the first time in history in July.
Coach Ian Quinton said Gale surprised everyone with his sudden rise to success.
"He has come out of nowhere. He hadn't done a lot of training in the lead-up to these events - he's just a kid who loves his sport," Quinton said.
"He actually bettered his personal best time from the regionals to the state titles by five seconds.
"He's now ranked second in the nation for his age. I've really only taken him under my wing since the state titles.
"I love seeing country kids go out and perform well against their city counterparts who have access to all the facilities."