ON TRACK: Paige O'Connor has found success in both cross country and athletics.
ON TRACK: Paige O'Connor has found success in both cross country and athletics. Claudia Williams

Set for new challenges

SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: Paige O'Connor has a passion for running, and she has had a successful year competing in cross country and on the athletics track.

The highlight of the year for Paige was representing Queensland for the first time at the national cross country titles in Tasmania.

Paige found success in the teams event winning gold and bronze across the three days.

"We weren't expecting to come first so we were really happy,” she said.

"It was really fun to win with my team and we all became really good friends.”

To prepare for the cold conditions in Tasmania Paige was training at 5.30am during winter.

"Getting up in the mornings was pretty hard but once I started doing my training it was really good.

"It helped me feel a lot better in the wind and the cold in Tasmania.”

As well as the change in weather Paige had to navigate a different course but she enjoys the challenge.

"It's really fun to run and its fun to learn new a course,” she said.

"You have got to to know what all the corners are like to know what tactics to use and to make sure you don't get stuck on the inside.”

Paige was nominated for sportsperson of the year by her Mum, Carolyn, and trains alongside her sisters and they are coached by their Dad, Stephen.

"Her and her older sister train together most of the time and push off each other at times,” he said.

It is her attitude towards her success which is admired.

"She doesn't brag or big note herself,” he said.

"Whether it's on the track or at cross country she doesn't go to school and tell people how she went unless they ask.

"She seems to be satisfied with her own achievements without having to tell people.”

When preparing for a competition a training week for Paige could involve an eight kilometre long run, an easy run of five kilometres, speed endurance efforts, intervals at race pace or a little faster and sprints for pure speed.

Although rest and recovery is just as important as training.

"You have always got to make sure they have two days to recover because mentally and physically they need a rest,” Stephen said.

Paige has also found success on the track and this was her third year competing at the Queenslad State Track and Field Championships as a part of the 12years girls 1500 metres, 800 metres and long jump team.

"I like it all but for athletics I'm all about 800 metres and above and the field events are good now and then but not my favourite,” she said.

Paige has been involved in little athletics since she was in the Under 6 age division and currently represents the Nanango Little Athletics Centre.

"It always has a really good vibe and there are heaps of kids there and running in general is heaps of fun and it is a a good way to exercise,” she said.

Team sports is also a passion for Paige and she plays softball and netball for which she has represented Nanango State High School and South Burnett. .

Paige plays first base in softball, a sport that combines her favourite things.

"Softball involves running, throwing and batting and I like all of those things so when you put them together it is really fun,” she said.

It is no surprise that centre is one of Paige's favourite positions to play because she gets to run the full range of the court.

"Its always a good extra sport to play and has a lot of different position that do a different job,” she said.

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