City's fantastic five set for Games
HIGH achieving Ipswich sportswomen Leah Neale, Jordyn Holzberger and Alyce Stephenson make their Commonwealth Games debuts excited about competing so close to their home city.
Neale, 22, contests the 200m freestyle heats on Thursday morning hoping to secure a spot in the evening final at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
Holzberger, 24, is part of the Australian Hockeyroos team opening their medal bid in Thursday afternoon's match against Canada.
Stephenson, 27, lines up in the 48kg weightlifting competition from 2pm on Thursday at Carrara.
Ipswich-bred Neale and Holzberger have travelled around the world pursuing their sporting dreams.
Former St Mary's College student Neale was part of Australia's silver medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Ipswich Girls' Grammar School graduate Holzberger has represented her country in nearly 60 internationals in many countries. She relocated to the Hockeyroos national base in Perth in recent years to strengthen her Australian prospects.
Ipswich surgical nurse Stephenson also attended St Mary's College, having been a multi-talented athlete. She entered weightlifting competitions after taking up the sport to complement her aerial performance routines.
Gaining Commonwealth Games selection was a welcome surprise.
Although Neale and Holzberger are also Commonwealth Games rookies, they have been at the pinnacle of their sports for a number of years.
Neale has made multiple Australian junior and senior teams since her teenage years. She began her steady rise after representing Australia at Junior Pan Pacs and the Youth Commonwealth Games.
Apart from her 2016 Olympic success celebrating her 21st birthday in Rio, former Silkstone State School student Neale has also won bronze medals representing Australia in relay events at world short course and long course championships.
She's preparing for the Games after carrying the Queen's baton in Ipswich last Thursday.
"My mentality about it all has changed,'' Neale said, determined to be more relaxed at her latest international competition. "That has really helped the last few months.
"I'm not putting any pressure on myself.''
Attacking midfielder Holzberger has been on a similar international journey since gaining Queensland and Australian selection while representing Hancock Brothers in the Ipswich competition.
"It means a lot,'' Holzberger said of her latest selection. "It's a home Comm Games, which is really exciting to be able to play in front of your family.''
Stephenson has been training up to six days a week to be in tip-top shape for the Games.
She's been in the Australian team camp with Ipswich stalwart Deb Acason, who is preparing for her fifth Commonwealth Games.
Acason, 34, competes on April 9 in her 90kg plus division at the Carrara Sport and Leisure Centre.
Ipswich's other Commonwealth Games representative is high jumper Cassie Purdon, who will leap at the Carrara Stadium on April 12.
Lanefield-based Purdon, 21, is hoping to qualify for the final on April 14.