World under 20’s Wrap: A journal article by Grace Brennan
World u20's was a whirlwind of training, competing and new experiences. The first wave of athletes left on the 20th of June and started their tour in Germany where they trained and competed for a week.
My tour started, along with the 25 or so remaining athletes a week later in Finland. After 30+ hours of travelling including 5 flights and a bus ride, we finally joined the team in Pajulahti, Finland. Pajulahti was our training base where we got used to the weather, time zone and made use of the amazing facilities. After the testing trek over to Finland, trying to settle into a new country came with its own set of challenges. Finland is light for around 20 hours of the day; the sun doesn't usually set until around 12pm and rises again at 4am. This made sleeping tough and we had to get creative; many of us taped garbage bags to our windows and doors to try and block out the sun while others would wear two eye masks to try and get some sleep. Finnish food was also quite different to home, our meal times often bombarded by fish and salmon as well as the occasional reindeer dish.
While in Pajulahti we were fortunate enough to have access to an indoor track, outdoor track, swimming pool and gym so we could maximise our training and recovery. We also competed at nearby competitions which were for some of us, the first taste of international competition, something that was extremely useful leading up to world u20s. Overall I found our time at Pajulahti training centre extremely beneficial, it gave us the opportunity to solely focus on our training as well as forming friendships with our teammates before the all-important championships.
After our week in Pajulahti we headed off to Tampere where the city was filled with promotions for the championships, making it all seem very real. For the next week the Australian team competed extremely well, many winning medals and PB's. It was surreal to be at a competition with the best in the world and it was definitely a huge learning curve, hopefully preparing us for bigger competitions in the future.
A huge thankyou goes out to Athletics Australia for organising and running an extremely successful tour and to all the management and medical staff who supported us in every way possible. Thanks to Athletics ACT for ensuring we had the best preparation and for their support throughout the trip and to our respective clubs for cheering us on- it was amazing having such a solid support crew back at home. To all of our coaches who have believed in us and been with us through the highs and lows of our sport, we can't thank you enough. And to all of our family and friends who have been our rocks throughout this entire journey, we couldn't have done it without you. I think I speak on behalf of all 4 ACT athletes when I say it was a trip of a lifetime and we can't wait to see the future ACT u20 world champs representatives experience this amazing opportunity.