Leysha could be our next Cathy Freeman
WITH no athletic training, Leysha Emery-Gesah has broken the long-standing under-15 200m record at Pioneer State High School previously held by Cathy Freeman.
In striking similarity, 15-year-old Leysha, an indigenous girl from Slade Point, idolises Freeman and even did a school assignment on the athlete. When Freeman strode to that memorable gold in Sydney, Leysha wasn't four months old.
Freeman, when told of the result, personally wrote to congratulate Leysha. Pioneer High Year 10 co-ordinator Michelle Wollaston contacted Freeman through the running legend's foundation.
"The letter was telling me to make sure I behave in school, stay (grounded) in my space and follow my dreams (because) they'll turn into reality," Leysha said.
The quietly-spoken and humble girl said she would love to take her athletics further and has begun training to reach her goals.
In 1987, Freeman ran the 200m at Pioneer SHS in 27.84 seconds. Leysha ran it in 26.9 seconds.
Leysha's only training before breaking the records in June was, she said, "sometimes jogging at the beach and walking my dog".
"I just casually picked it (running) up," she said. "Mum was a runner in school, so maybe that was it."
Leysha has five siblings, including a twin, Manoah, who she likes to remind that she's far quicker than.
Like any girl her age, she enjoys hanging out with friends but it's her new bond with Freeman that has her inspired to work hard on her dreams.
"Set your goals, work hard towards them, believe in yourself and never ever give up girl," Freeman's letter said.
Under-15, 200m: 26.9 seconds Record held since 1991
Under-15, 100m. 12.8 seconds