THE Ponds hurdler Sally Stagles trains with athletes more than 40 years her junior but she’s the one keeping them on their toes. After all, she is a world champion.
The Masters competitor broke the national 80m hurdles record by 0.1 seconds at the Australian Masters Athletics Championships last month with a time of 12.94 seconds. She also claimed gold in pentathlon and high jump after a 1.30m leap.
Last year, she became the Masters world champ in the 60m hurdles in 9.8 seconds.
At Cherrybrook Athletics Club, she trains with 14-year-old girls who are notching up times that are just marginally faster.
“I’ve been told by some of their parents they’re in awe of me, which is lovely,’’ Stagles, 57, said.
“They’re just very inspirational and they look after me.
“Last Monday I was totally out of breath and they said ‘Are you all right Sally?’ and hopefully I give something back to them.”
It is the fourth record she set in the Masters competition but the first in that age group.
The victory was celebrated with seafood and wine in Fremantle and shared with peers including Jill Taylor and Robert Clark.
The trio amassed 20 medals in track and field events held at the Western Australian Athletics Stadium in Perth.
“It’s unbelievable. I was just thrilled,’’ Stagles said.
Her next major challenge is the Masters World Athletics Championships in Spain when she will be pitted against US heavyweight Joy Upshaw and a formidable European contingent in the 80m hurdles and 100m sprint.
“Of all, the Europeans tend to be very strong and because these competitions are held in Europe, you do get a lot of them attending,’’ Stagles said.
Unlike their Northern Hemisphere rivals, Australian Masters athletes train but do not have as many competitions in winter but, like her peers, Stagles will ramp up as the September tournament draws closer.
As a relatively new Aussie who migrated from the UK eight years ago, Masters has also helped Stagles form friendships.
“I came across to Australia totally on my own so it’s really good to join a social group and they’re such a lovely group of friends at Cherrybrook,’’ she said.
“I think everybody can still be doing sport and activities at my age.”
Stagles has been nominated for a Local Sports Star Service to Sport award. The competition runs until August 31 across five categories.
To nominate visit localsportsstars.com.au