HIGH HOPES: Commonwealth Games high jumper Cassie Purdon relaxes at her family home in Lanefield before completing preparations for her weekend competition.
HIGH HOPES: Commonwealth Games high jumper Cassie Purdon relaxes at her family home in Lanefield before completing preparations for her weekend competition. David Nielsen

Why tenacious Cassie is already a winner

WHEN Ipswich Commonwealth Games high jumper Cassie Purdon represents Australia on Saturday, she can be proud having already conquered a massive challenge.

On her road to the Gold Coast Games, the Lanefied athlete had to contend with a series of injuries.

After problems in 2015 with her knee, she rolled both ankles at different times then suffered a stress fracture in her back in 2017.

She spent the best part of two years dealing with the issues after representing Australia at the 2015 Junior World Championships in the United States.

She came fifth with a 1.85m jump on that occasion.

But her confidence took a dramatic turn when injury struck.

"I'm not going to lie,'' Purdon, 21, said before heading to the Athletes Village.

"There were some times where I definitely was going to give it up, or wanted to.

"But I stuck it out and that has obviously paid off.''

Her family and coaching support, country upbringing and tenacity helped her win the high jump at the recent national championships to secure a spot on the Australian team.

She'll be bubbling with confidence when she makes her Commonwealth Games debut at Carrara Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The resilient athlete developed her career with respected coach Bailey Pashley at the Ipswich and Lockyer District clubs before training with Gary Bourne at the QAS.

She hopes improving on her personal best of 1.88m will keep her in the medal hunt.

"It's just to stay focused, try to not get too distracted and focus on why you are there and just compete,'' she said.

"It will be a whole different experience.''

Rising up the ranks at five previous national championships has given her a headstart, except the crowds will be much bigger this time.

She received a taste of that at the 2015 Junior World Championships, which she rates among her most enjoyable athletic moments.

"It was a whole different ball game over there,'' she said.

"Just the crowds and everyone really gets into it, which is something we are not used to here in Australia. So that was a nice surprise just seeing how much support you get.''

Having surprised herself qualifying for the Aussie team, the Lanefield athlete is keeping her options open for the future.

"This will definitely be a good learning curve and just see if I'm in shape for the 2020 (Tokyo) Olympics and see if I can qualify for that,'' she said.

But before pondering her next athletic goal, Purdon has a Commonwealth Games to enjoy and challenge herself.

Proud parents John and Ruth have been avid supporters, providing constant encouragement along with Cassie's sisters Jessicca and Maddie and brother John.

Dad John said the family had been chatting to Cassie and got the feeling she was thriving in the Australian team environment.

"She's over the moon,'' John said. "(She said) the atmosphere down there is outstanding.''

John said in between her training sessions, Cassie has been soaking up the Aussie support, cheering on her teammates.

As for how she'll go, former athlete John said she was feeling confident just days before her event.

"It's very hard to get a rise in emotion out of her but when she's up there she shows a bit of emotion,'' he said.

"What she's done so far, she's shown good form and good promise.''

While bettering the Games record of 1.96m is not on her radar, Purdon said before leaving Ipswich that leaping into the 1.90m zone would be extremely satisfying.

Sporting snapshot: Cassie Purdon

Born: October 24, 1996, Townsville. Grew up in the Lanefield area, near Rosewood.

Qualities of a successful athlete: Having a good support network; dedication and focus to stick with it through injuries and everything; having a good mentality.

Spending time in Lanefield: The country life is great to escape the hustle and bustle of major cities. It was enjoyable growing up with horses and motorbikes. "I spent six months at Cooparoo and couldn't handle it. It was too fast. Everything was a little bit too quick for me.''

Personal strengths: Resilience, easygoing.

Favourite food: "Chocolate is my weak link''.

Most rewarding part of athletics: "The opportunities, to represent your country and squad.''

Most challenging part: "Dealing with injury; travelling long distances to training''.

What inspires you: "To be the best that I can. We all know there's some talent there, something left in the tank, so it's just to kind of to see what I can do.''

Future goals: Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


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