Sport

Nanango trio runs to cross country glory

Kirsten, Stephen and Paige O'Connor have excelled in cross country events on the Sunshine Coast.
Kirsten, Stephen and Paige O'Connor have excelled in cross country events on the Sunshine Coast. Aiden Burgess

ATHLETICISM certainly runs in the O'Connor family.

Stephen and his daughters Kirsten and Paige have been rewarded for their hard efforts, all of them getting second-place finishes in the Sunshine Coast cross country series.

Efforts that have seen the Nanango trio slog it out in running sessions five to six times a week, as they hit the town streets and their own property track in preparation for their cross country races.

Stephen trains often with his two daughters, guiding them along at the same time as he carries out his own training.

"I have days where I'll run my own pace, and there'll be days when I'll go back with Kirsten or Paige and push them, and it helps them a lot to run against each other," he said.

Kirsten said training with her father helped her to finish second against the top-class Sunshine Coast field in her race.

"Running with dad makes us improve and it makes us train a lot harder," she said.

"He always tells us if there's no pain, there's no gain and if you're not sore enough at the end, then you haven't done enough."

Paige said her father gave valuable advice that had improved her technique.

"He tells us a lot of things that we have to improve, and he sets a good example and encourages us."

A former hurdler and long distance runner in his twenties, Stephen said he returned to competition because of his daughters' interest in athletics.

"I sort of came back into it when Paige and Kirsten got into Little Athletics and it's taken 12 months for me to get back to a level where I can be competitive," he said.

"They're both natural runners and Kirsten has good endurance and is great through the middle of the race.

"Paige is the complete opposite as she starts well and is a better sprinter than Kirsten.

"She can sprint at the end and has acceleration when she needs it."

Stephen said the car trips to the Sunshine Coast gave the family a chance to prepare for their races.

"We discuss tactics in the car and before each race as we know a lot of the opposition from the girls' Little Athletics," he said.

The proud father said he was happy his daughters had followed the same athletic path as him.

"I take a lot of pride, especially when they have that first win," he said.

Sunshine Coast series:

  • Stephen finished 2nd of 23 competitors in 3km 40-49 years age group
  • Kirsten finished 2nd of 50 girls in 2km under-12 age group
  • Paige finished 2nd of 28 girls in 1km under-10 age group
South Burnett

Topics:  cross country, nanango


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