At 11 years of age Jack Fairfield-Smith knows what it's like to run against some of the best young athletes in the country on the same track used by Cathy Freeman and Maurice Greene on their way to winning Olympic gold.
The Year Five Jindabyne Central School (JCS) student made it to the final of the 800 metres at the State Primary School Athletics Championships held at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre last month.
After qualifying with the second-fastest time in his heat, Jack said he was a bag of nerves when the starting gun fired for the final of the two-lap race for 11-year-old boys.
Jack finished sixth in the final with a time of 2 minutes, 30.13 seconds - less than 10 seconds behind first-placed Angus Beer from Rozelle in Sydney.
"I was really happy with my heat coming second but in the final I was full of nerves and feel I didn't run my best," said Jack, laughing that he hoped to grow a bit taller before next year's championships.
"I've had a couple of weeks off and I'm back in training for next year."
Year Four JCS student Fletcher Thew made it to the semi-finals in the blue ribbon 100m event for nine-year-old boys. Fletcher qualified fourth in his heat to claim his spot in the semi-final, in which he finished 11th, missing a place in the final. Fletcher's semi-final time of 14.70s was less than a second behind the winning time in the final.
"It was a great experience for me to run at the Olympic Stadium in Homebush," said Fletcher, referring to Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre, which was the warm-up track for the Sydney 2000 Olympics where Freeman and Greene were crowned Olympic champions.
"I was really nervous at the starting blocks and think I will do an even better time if I practice my starts more."
The boys are back in training at Jindabyne Little Athletics preparing for next year's challenge.