IT'S not everyday a student receives a personalised text message from an Olympian.
Aspiring Warrnambool athlete Grace Kelly knows she's in a fortunate position to have Australian 100-metre runner Hana Basic in her corner.
The Emmanuel College student, whose personal best over 100m is 11.98 seconds, will pay close attention to Basic's Tokyo Olympics campaign. Kelly said her connection to Basic started after her most recent state championships.
"I was like 'I look up to you'," she told The Standard.
"We have been in contact over the past few months, just messaging back and forward about racing.
"For nationals she texted me and wished me good luck and said 'stay focussed and it will all work out'.
"When you look up to someone like that and they take time out of their day to say something to you, it's pretty exciting."
Kelly has highs hopes for Basic, whose personal best is 11.16. Basic has run sub-11.20 on four occasions - the most by an Australian female sprinter.
"Every race she's run she's been improving and she's running some consistent times," Kelly said.
"If conditions are good she might run an Australian record."
Kelly, who won the Warrnambool Gift earlier this year against seasoned opponents, said she would love to follow Basic's footsteps and wear the green and gold.
"Anything to represent Australia like Commonwealth Games and Olympics I think would be pretty cool," she said.
Kelly will invest in the Olympics. Australia's one-hour time difference with Japan is a godsend for those wanting to follow the games. The opening ceremony is on Friday night.
"With it being postponed last year and with lockdown, I think it gives everyone something to look forward to," she said.
"I think seeing how much work all the Australian athletes have put in, they have had a really tough year with COVID and mixed up competitions (makes it important)."
Jesse Suter, 15, is another Warrnambool athlete eager to follow the games.
"I can't wait to watch the 100m and also the men's decathlon, which will be pretty interesting," he said.
"One of my favourite athletes, Cedric Dubler, competes in that and I like watching him compete.
"He inspires me the way he goes about everything he does with training and work ethic."
Suter is prioritising 100m, 200m and 400m races after early success in discus and shotput. The Warrnambool College student, who has won medals at the national championships, will watch athletes to help inspire him.
"I look at the way they set up and prepare and their form is good to watch," he said.
Suter, like Kelly, would like to reach his sport's pinnacle in years to come. "If I had the chance to go and compete I'd definitely love to," he said of the Olympics. "It would be something which would be really good to do and a really good experience."
Kelly and Suter, who is also interested in the Australian Boomers' basketball campaign, can see the dream becoming a reality.
There are eight south-west Victorians in this year's Australian Olympic team - golfer Marc Leishman (Warrnambool), basketballer Nathan Sobey (Warrnambool), trap shooter Penny Smith (Bookaar), table tennis player Melissa Tapper (Hamilton), equestrian Jamie Kermond (Woolsthorpe), javelin thrower Kathryn Mitchell (Casterton) and cyclist Grace Brown (Camperdown).
Tapper and rower Kathryn Ross (Warrnambool) will compete and the Paralympics.
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