Life in fast lane an eye-opener
By GREG WHITE
FIFTEEN days in the United States of America have opened Chantelle Barnett's eyes to the way Americans view their Aussie mates.
"Seriously, some think we ride kangaroos to school," she laughed, "and keep them in the backyard as pets.
"It took some convincing this wasn't the case.
"But they are very friendly people and we got on fine."
Chantelle was invited across the Pacific to compete in cross country as part of the Australian Select team and took part in three events against runners from Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.
"Cross country has a big profile in the schools and varsities and there's a big circuit of events around the desert states," she said.
"It was still very dry down the southern end of the country as they are only starting to move into winter."
Chantelle had her first start in the 'Run the Ridge' open girls 5km event at Shadow Ridge, Las Vegas . . . and claimed a gold medal.
"It was a very big meeting with competitors coming from everywhere," Chantelle said.
"I ran well and winning was a great thrill to all the Australian team."
Leaving Las Vegas, Chantelle as the 13-year-old 'baby' of the squad found the going much tougher.
"The age groups go up to 19 years so I was up against older runners," she said.
Still, she managed to hold her own in two further events held in places with exotic names.
A fifth placing in the 3km Laughlin Nevada junior high invitational before a return to Vegas for the 'Durango-Bonanza-Rancho del Sol' 5km open girls race, and a 13th placing.
Chantelle's medals are now proudly on display in the trophy case at Coffs Harbour Christian Community School.
"The trip was a fantastic experience and I'd like to do it again," she said.
But for the time being the running shoes will be put away while she continues with basketball.