September 19, 2019
Nanango State High School student Summer Millard is striding out ahead of the pack … literally.
Summer, 14, competed at the recent Athletics Australia Winter Race Walking championships in Adelaide as part of the Queensland team.
The Queenslanders claimed a silver medal, and Summer earned an individual fourth place (and a first for handicap) in the Open 10km Women’s event with a time of 58:59.
Summer also came sixth in the Under 16s 5km Girls’ event with a time of 28:40.
The championships, which were held in conjunction with Road Walking Australia, were held on September 8.
Summer has been race walking for only a year, after being introduced to the sport at school and at Nanango Little Athletics, but she’s already being mentored by one of the best in the business.
Her coach is dual Olympian race walker Dave Smith, who represented Australia at the Moscow and Los Angeles games.
Summer is a member of the Queensland Race Walking Club and takes part in their events.
This means that every Sunday morning Summer and her mum, well-known local soccer referee Dawn Millard, have to hit the road between 4:00am and 4:30am so that Summer can get to the race venue at 7:00am in time for warm-ups.
These Sunday competitions are held at different locations across Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich.
It was her performance in these club competitions which led to Summer qualifying for the Queensland team and heading off to Adelaide.
She’s now hoping to make the Queensland team at the School Sports carnival in Cairns in October and then head to the nationals in Perth in December.
Race walking is different from running because one foot must be in contact with the ground at all times. As well, the toe of the back foot cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched.
Every step is watched by judges and walkers can be disqualified for using the wrong technique.
Race walking requires great concentration from competitors, and Summer admits it is a mental challenge as well as physical one.
If all goes well – and she can raise some sponsorship – Summer also hopes to make it to New Zealand in January to compete in two major competitions over there.