Feature by Michael Hansford
Competing in her first international competition, the 17-year-old threw 13.34m in the seated Javelin to secure the gold, following a surprise bronze medal in the Shot Put.
The youngest in the field, Crees narrowly missed the qualifying distance for the 2019 IPC World Para Championships held in Dubai later this year.
“It was very surprising,” Crees said, “but to do well there [at Arafura] was definitely my biggest [goal] for this season.”
Not shy of grand aspirations, the junior now sets focus on a long-term goal of qualifying for the next world championships.
“Obviously Dubai [world championships] this year isn’t going to be our focus anymore, and we [don’t expect to] make Tokyo [2020 Olympics],” Crees said, “so then 2021 [the world championships are] back in Japan … so that’s now our main focus to make qualifiers for that, and to target [the Australian championships] in the meantime.”
An interrupted preparation almost meant that Crees would have to wait a little longer for her international debut.
A wrist injury early in the season and low iron levels meant she had to forfeit most of the domestic season, and left her with underwhelming performances at the Victorian Championships and All Schools competitions.
Overcoming the early interruptions and coming in to form, she then had to compete in the sweltering Darwin heat and humidity.
“we had to prepare ourselves [for the heat] and being in a field of 12 we knew the wait [during the competition] was going to be very hot, and we didn’t know what order we were going to be throwing in,” she said.
Despite enduring challenging conditions and stints of up to three hours per event at the track, Crees was able to perform when it mattered most.
“It was a good competition … I don’t have any regrets with going.”
The Arafura Games was held in Darwin and featured competitors from 49 countries across 17 different sports with able bodied and para events held side by side.
Crees represented her state and wore her local club Casey Cardinia Athletics uniform despite it being an international competition, with Athletics Australia failing to send an official team.
Crees however was not phased, happy with the support of father Mark, coach Gordon Talbot and the Athletics Victoria’s Target Talent Program.
“the support team that I’ve got now is working for me and I don’t really want to change anything [at the moment],” she said.
Feature Photo: Dayna Crees and fellow medallists. Picture: Facebook