29 November 2016
Champion young pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall doesn't know if he can match his deeds at the Rio Olympic Games but he is certainly keen to give it a good crack.
Kurtis, 19, captured the imagination of track and field followers when he cleared 5.70m at a meeting in Mannheim, Germany, in July to qualify for the Games in Rio. That vault smashed the Australian junior record and was the highest vault by a junior in three years. At the start of 2016 his best leap was 5.42m.
But qualifying for Rio and the whole experience in Rio was something the Happy Valley resident could not get enough of.
"You are so consumed in what you are doing that I didn't really know what was happening around me,'' he said. "I was caught in the Olympic bubble. But outside my event I watched as much athletics as I could because it was my sport. It was an absolute buzz and the level of the standard was so high. The 400m was just insane where a guy ran from lane eight and set a world record where he couldn't see anyone until the end. The crowd would just go nuts, especially if a Brazilian won.''
Kurtis performed strongly in his event, clearing 5.60m to finish 15th, narrowly missing the 12-man final.
Before the event he had doubts as to whether he belonged on the big stage.
"It was about two days out and I was looking at all of these star athletes and I was putting all of these pressures on myself,'' he said. "I thought of all the extra work I could have done - the tiny things that don't mean much got to me a bit. But then Jared Tallent and Henry Frayne just told me to go for it, that I was only 19 and had already achieved a lot. That helped. And my family has been great, they have enjoyed the ride all the way.''
On his return to Australia Kurtis did the rounds of talks and motivating meetings with various groups, enjoying a break from training. "After the Olympics there were so many personal messages. It just went crazy,'' he said. "It was so hard getting back into training. I could not believe it. My first session back to the gym I could not even walk afterwards. Your endurance and muscle strength just goes.''
Kurtis will crank up the training soon with the national titles in March, 2017, his next main target. After that he is hoping to qualify for the world titles in London in August 2017.