Triple jumper Clarke on track for Youth Olympics

Champion: Australian Under 18 triple jumper Tay-Leiha Clark with sponsor Matt Crews. Picture: Chris Lane.
Champion: Australian Under 18 triple jumper Tay-Leiha Clark with sponsor Matt Crews. Picture: Chris Lane.
Going places: Tay-Leiha Clark.

Going places: Tay-Leiha Clark.

ONE of Australia's most talented young athletes, Tay-Leiha Clark, has received the backing of the Cronulla Sharks developers in her quest to compete on the world stage.

The 16-year-old student at Endeavour Sports High School has been awarded funding by Woolooware Bay because she has a good chance of being selected in the Australian team to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, in August.

She is also in line for selection for the 2015 IAAF World Youth Athletics Championships in Colombia, and the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships.

Tay-Leiha, of Kurnell, is a very talented and physically gifted young athlete, excelling at a high level in a variety of sports.

But over the past couple of years she has developed along the athletic pathway and has now established herself as one of the country's leading young triple jumpers, despite having to compete against older competition.

She enjoyed a breakthrough season last year as a 15-year-old, winning the Australian All Schools Championships in setting a new under-16 women's record (and finishing second in long jump).

Then this year she took out both the state and Australian Junior Championships triple jump in the under-18 division, with a personal best jump of 12 metres 59 centimetres and moving her to fourth in the world in that age group — a huge achievement for a 16-year-old.

She is coached by triple Olympian Nicole Boegman-Stewart, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and Athletics NSW coach Alex Stewart.

"Tay-Leiha was selected in the Athletics Australia 2014 National under 17 Development Squad, and so she has been travelling to Homebush and the NSW Institute of Sport for training three to four days as well as weekend competitions locally and interstate," her mother Renae Clark said.

"She has a very strong support network in her family, coaches and her training partners, but of course we really needed some financial support to allay the costs.

"Woolooware Bay heard about Tay and came forward to finance her training and all her travelling costs . . . it was a really big thing.

"Now Tay and her coaches can concentrate on making sure that the promise she is showing now as a junior athlete enables her to become a world-class senior athlete in the future."

Woolooware Bay project manager Matt Crews said they were "more than happy" to help fund the teenager's quest for sporting excellence.

"If we can help make a difference with Tay-Leiha and her sporting career, that is great," he said.

It is likely the photogenic athlete will be called on for marketing work, as well.

The goals for Tay-Leiha in the coming seasons are the 2014 Olympic Youth Games in China, 2015 IAAF World Youth Athletics Championships in Colombia, and the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships.

And the next Olympics?

"That would be fantastic, of course," Tay-Leiha said.