BRILLIANT performances in late November promise to open up some doors for promising Wagga athlete Leyla Liakatos after she ran her way into the national record books.
Running the last leg, the Wagga-based 18-year-old helped the club she represents, Bankstown Sports Athletics Club, to a new Australian benchmark of 18:21.77 in the under-20 4x1500m relay at the NSW Relay Championships in Sydney.
It narrowly eclipsed the previous record, and followed another superb run of around 9:55 over her pet 3km distance the week before, which earned her an invite to train and compete in Melbourne in late January.
Liakatos is a former Wagga Little Athletics Club member and trains on her own with her coach Andae Kalemusic and relay teammates Jaylah Hancock-Cameron, Shayne Hargraves and Lily Winward all based on the south coast.
Liakatos said it was a relief to break the record.
"Our coach had it in the back of her mind we could get it, so she set it up to give us our best chance," she said.
"When I got the baton I knew we had a chance to get it still, but it was quite hard to know the time I was running because holding a baton I couldn't start my watch.
"We were quite far in front so I had to run by myself, which made it a bit difficult. We were all super excited and just relieved, like a weight was off our shoulders a bit."
Liakatos is excited about the opportunities her Melbourne sojourn could present as she focuses on winning selection for next year's under-20s world junior championships team.
"In Sydney I had to run 3km under ten minutes to get a chance to run in Melbourne, which I did," she said.
"I like the 1500 but my best event at the moment is 3k, and I'll have a crack at the 5k this year as well.
"I'd like to try and make the under-20 world juniors team. There was meant to be one for cross country this year but that's been cancelled, so hopefully next year.
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