For someone who didn’t start competitive sport until Year 7, Alyssa Herro has achieved a lot. Awarded the Anthony Khoury Encouragement Award in 2018, Alyssa was recently chosen to join a selective athletics meet. The Year 9 student’s Athletics coaches say her performance has improved in leaps and bounds over the past two and a half years and her persistence is one of her strongest attributes – and it is paying off on the field.
Having only recently taken up hammer throwing, discus and shot put, Alyssa joined the Meriden Athletics team at the DownUnder Championships on the Gold Coast during the July school holidays. It was Alyssa’s first major competition.
Her coach, Miss Yasenaca (Tai) Denicaucau, said Alyssa’s commitment to learning new skills, even when they are challenging, makes her a role model for other girls.
“Field events, especially throwing events, require very technical skills and it can take weeks – even for elite athletes – to learn or change these techniques. Alyssa has done this and learned an entire new event in a short space of time. Her positive attitude has been a major factor in her accelerated learning. She approaches each session with the intention of challenging herself and she gives one hundred and ten per cent effort every time,” Miss Denicaucau said.
“Her ‘never give up attitude’ and her desire to understand athletic and technical concepts more thoroughly help her improve all the time. Her approach positively impacts those around her as her peers tend to mirror her outlook.”
The recent Gold Coast meet saw Alyssa and the Meriden Athletics Team compete with other young people from across Australia and around the world. Alyssa competed in the Under 16s hammer throw, discus and shot put events. She achieved personal bests in two out of the three events, holding out against her first-competition nerves. Alyssa came sixth in the hammer throw event, with a personal best throw of 23.98 metres. She then placed tenth in both the shot put and discus events with a personal best distance in the shot put.
Head Coach Athletics, Mrs Nicole Boegman-Stewart, said Alyssa’s performance at the competition was striking.
“Alyssa has only had a few training sessions for the throwing events, so it was really impressive to see her compete with, and hold her own against, girls who have been participating in them at high levels for at least five years.”
Alyssa is passionate about Athletics and said she isn’t afraid of hard work. She said the combination of encouragement from Sports Department staff and seeing improvement in her strength, performance and confidence has spurred her on.
“I decided to push myself to try new things in high school when I started Athletics in Year 7,” Alyssa said.
“The feeling of a good throw is one of the most satisfying feelings: a successful throw is very precise and technical, so when I achieve a good throw, it motivates me to keep training.”
“When I received the Anthony Khoury Encouragement Award last year, it made me reflect on how far I had come not only in sport, but also as a person. By the end of 2018 I had achieved my goals and was proud of myself and the award to me is a reminder that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
Alyssa said the DownUnder Championships was an eye-opening experience that improved her as a competitive athlete.
“After my performance in discus, I wasn’t pleased with my results. However, with the support of the Meriden girls and the coaches, I learnt some valuable lessons about resilience and how to see ‘failure’ as a positive thing because it helps people grow and improve. Overall, the experience and knowledge that I took home from my first competition was priceless.”