Most teenagers feel daunted by the road ahead but that doesn’t apply to Griffith Health student and elite sportswoman Katie Hayward.

The 18 year-old race walker is currently in the second year of her Occupational Therapydegree while also preparing to represent Australia at the upcoming 2019 World Championships in Doha and World University Games in Napoli.

At the recent Australian Track and Field Championships, Katie clocked the 3rd fastest time ever by an Australian in the gruelling 20 kilometre event when she won the national title in Adelaide. For the record, Katie’s time was the fastest ever by an Aussie on home soil.

“This year is pretty full on and I can’t wait to represent Australia at these events with of course an eye towards the big one in 2020,” Katie said.

The big one is of course the Tokyo Olympics where as it now stands, the teenager is in the box seat to be one of the youngest ever athletes to represent Australia in Track and Field at the Olympic level.

“18 months away is a long time and a lot can happen but my qualifying time which I recorded in Adelaide at the Nationals means I am well placed to make the team if my form holds.”

Picture courtesy of Katie Hayward

The holder of a Griffith Sports Scholarship, Katie began race walking as an early teen after being a star cross country runner as a junior.

“My dad was a good sprinter but I didn’t get the fast twitch fibres. I loved long distance running then fell for race walking and I’ve been competing ever since.

“I find my gait and rhythm for fast walking comes naturally although at the end of the marathon 20 kilometre race, there is nothing quite as painful as your legs filled with lactic acid and cramping,” the Gold Coaster said.

Katie is learning all about body mechanics having started her Occupational Therapy degree last year and being awarded a Griffith Sports Scholarship and admission in to Griffith Sports College.

“The scholarship has been amazing which has helped ease the cost of getting to major international events as well as competitions around Australia.

“The Sports College has also been invaluable in helping helps me rearrange my study timetable and uni contact hours allowing me to attend classes more suitable around my training times.”

Katie’s next event is the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan later this month.

“It’s a great opportunity to take a look at the course being used in Tokyo so hopefully it will assist in training ahead of the Games.”