Ovens leaps into his fourth Australian junior athletics championships

COBDEN athlete Ashley Ovens has booked his spot at a fourth Australian junior athletics championships.

Ovens, 18, will contest the under 20 triple jump at the championships at Sydney’s Olympic Park from March 12 to 16.

He earned his spot in the field by jumping a qualifying distance at the Victorian Country Championships at Ballarat’s Llanberis Reserve on Friday.

The Bellarine Athletics Club member, who last week shifted to Geelong for university, leaped 13.40 metres to take the gold medal.

He also won gold in the under 20 long jump with 6.66 metres and in the 100 metres with a time of 11.90 seconds.

His Bellarine 4x100-metre relay team won silver, finishing behind Geelong Guild by just 0.01 of a second. Ovens ran the second leg.

“I was pretty happy with my results. It was my second competition back. I’ve had an ankle injury,” Ovens said yesterday.

“I can’t really complain. I’m getting up towards my PBs (personal bests) and getting a national qualifier was good.”

Ovens said triple jump was his major focus. He has competed in the event at the past four junior nationals, without medalling. But he is confident of going better, having sought out the help of professional coach Paul Cleary halfway through the 2012-13 season.

Cleary, who is based in Ballarat, represented Australia in the 1500m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

“He’s helped me a lot. It’s just the professionalism, little bits in my technique that needed improvement,” Ovens said.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but little things can make a difference in your distances.

“They’re things I hadn’t even thought about. Instead of landing flat footed, you land on your heels.

“Before I went to him I was jumping 12.70, 12.80 at maximum. I got him halfway through last season and at that nationals I jumped 13.37. Now off half a run-up I’m jumping 13.45. Hopefully I can push towards 14, 14.50 off a full run-up.”

Ovens was one of three south-west athletes who contested the Victorian Country Championships.

Cobden middle distance runner Drew Semmens finished with one gold and one bronze medal from five events.

Semmens won bronze in the open-age 800m in two minutes, 10 seconds and gold in the 100m for athletes with a disability, in 12.65 seconds.

“I didn’t really have any expectations. I was going to have a bit of fun,” he said.

“To go home with a medal would have been good but to come home with two medals was even better.”

Semmens shifted to Geelong last month in a bid to further his athletics career under coach Anula Costa. 

He said the move had been worthwhile.

“For me to move down to Geelong gave me a confidence boost. I feel like I’m settled here a bit more, a little more relaxed,” he said.

Warrnambool masters athlete Alan Bryant, in the men’s 60-plus age group, won bronze in the triple jump (6.90m), bronze in the long jump (3.37m) and silver in the javelin (23.87m).

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