By Ron Lane
The major breakthrough in her career came about when Ian Smith fired the pistol to start the final of last year’s Noosa Gift. Running in an outside lane was a 15-year-old Noosa High School student Samantha Stanley; and 11.20 seconds later the sweet smell of success was hers to enjoy.
Affectionately known to her school mates as Sam, not only did she become the youngest athlete to win this prestigious event, but also became the first female to do so.
“For someone so young,” said chief starter Ian Smith, “this was an incredible result.”
Now just five months later, Sam has returned from the Australian Championships in Sydney, again having achieved success.
Competing in the under-17 division, she won three gold medals and one silver. The golds came in the 100m in a time of 11.92, 200m in 24.27 and her third in the triple jump of 12.27m. The silver came when she ran in the under-20 4×100 relay.
“I have been stoked, winning the medals, but best of all was the fact that I achieved my personal best in all three events; this was really pleasing. But in all honesty, I couldn’t have achieved this without my coaches Mick Hooper and Rebecca Brice.”
However, on returning home she found that at Saint Teresa’s Catholic College she had two exams waiting; study and training are definitely her two main objectives.
For Sam, it all started back at Manly Sydney when as a under-9 she enjoyed taking part in Saturday morning events for girls. Then the following year, she ran in the under-10s at the State Titles where she won silver medals in both the 100m and the long jump. A year later, as a under-11 representing NSW at the Nationals, she again won silver in the 100m, then gold in the relay and finished fifth in the long jump. She was starting to show some ability.
It was when her family moved to Noosa and she joined Noosa’s Little Athletics that she met up with the two people who were to play the major role in her career; coaches Mick Hooper and Beck Brice, for it was under these two that she continued working on her sprinting and jumps.
Her achievements came about as a result of her adhering to a well-formulated training program drawn up by her coaches. During the week, there are three sessions, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then two on Sunday. “On Sunday,” said Sam, “I have technical coaching with Beck then later in the day I have a gym session with Mick at his home.”
Next year her training sessions will increase by one, as she prepares for selection in the Junior Olympics to be held in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
“This will be tough,” coach Hooper said.
“Selection will depend on World Ratings and they usually send four boys and four girls, but of course that will depend on performance; and everything is under control of the AOC. (Australian Olympic Committee).
However, it was during a pause in their conversation that coach Hooper really dropped a bomb.
‘’Aren’t you going to tell Ron about the talent scout at the Justin Beaver concert?” he asked. Caught off balance, this delightful young lady started to giggle.
While walking through the crowd at the commencement of the concert, she was approached by a scout, Simone Hellican, representing IMG International Modeling. Simone told her that she had been “spotted”– and her people would like to talk. So during a break at the Sydney championships and after talks with IMG, (who have agencies in New York, Milan, Paris, London and Sydney) she was offered a contract for appraisal and discussion with her family. “When I got home,” said Sam, “I was thrilled with my medals but my friends were more excited about IMG.”
For this young lady, things are really starting to happen. Athletics and modelling; who knows what lies ahead?