Sport

Javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Roberts moves closer to senior Australian selection

She has an A-qualifier for the Commonwealth Games, but only two years ago javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Roberts contemplated retirement after a season-ending elbow injury.

Her persistence paid off when the 22-year-old metaphorically put one foot on the aeroplane to Glasgow with a distance of 60.12m at an ACT athletics club meeting on Friday night.

It was the first time Roberts has thrown further than the qualifying distance of 60m and is a marked improvement on her previous personal best of 58.58m.

A top-two finish at the national championships in April will all but secure her a place in her first senior Australian team at a major world event.

Roberts' promising career was almost over before it had begun when, in 2012, she tore a ligament in her elbow in a competition at the AIS athletics track.

''I was at the point of my life when I was going to make the decision: Am I willing to do everything to get there, or am I just going to say 'that's fine, I'm done','' she said.

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''I reassured myself that this is what I want to do and I'm going to work really hard to do it.

''It was a bit of a silver lining. I learned a lot from the experience, and I probably grew a lot as a javelin thrower as well.''

Coach Aaron Holt told her then: ''This injury could either make or break you,'' Holt recalled. ''You have to use that fire in you as a positive way to come back bigger and better than ever. We remind each other that this could be your last competition or last training week and you've got to be aggressive with it.''

Roberts has definitely done that. She used the time off to build strength in the gym and made changes to her throwing technique.

The hard work paid dividends last year: second place at the national championships behind world championship silver medallist Kim Mickle was an indication of her enormous potential.

She began this season full of confidence, knowing she could crack the 60m barrier. Her next goal is to push towards 65m and move into the top eight in the world. ''I didn't feel that 60m was too far out of my reach,'' she said.

''I knew I had it in me, but to get it out across the board in the first competition of the year was thrilling. It's so surreal because you train so hard for it and you hope it pays off. When it finally does, it kind of becomes reality.''

Time is on her side. Javelin throwers do not usually hit their peak until their mid to late 20s.

''I'm aiming for the Olympics in 2016, but 2018 [Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast] and the Olympics in 2020 are also two events I want to be at,'' she said.

''There's a lot of hard work to go before I get there.''

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