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Emerging athlete of the month – Aidan Murphy

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Image: Athletics Australia / Steve Christo

 

The teenage sprinting star is becoming one to watch after a stunning 200m victory at the South Australian titles in February.

South Australian sprinter Aidan Murphy is the February winner of the Commonwealth Games Australia emerging athlete of the month award.

The son of Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tania Van Heer has been burning up the track in his home state with the 18-year-old clocking a stunning 200m time at the  South Australian Championships that has rocketed him into the frame for the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“After the race I was kind of overwhelmed.

“I was just so happy with the time and running into a headwind means there’s so much more there.”

“Running at the State Championships does mean a lot to me because I had the home crowd support and had the family out, so it was a really good time,” Murphy said.

Aidan poses with his mother Tania Van Heer following his victory. (Athletics South Australia)

 

Stopping the clock at 20.41 Murphy set a national under-20 200m record and a South Australian open record, to break the 41-year-old SA mark set by former Australian champion Bruce Frayne along with Auckland 1990 sprinter Fred Martin’s Australian under-20 time from 1985.

The time was the seventh fastest ever by an Australian, the fastest by an Australian for 16 years, and the third fastest time by an Australian sprinter on Australian soil.

“As soon as I pulled up I was like ‘this is going to be quick’ … then I knew it was going to be fast when the commentator started getting a bit hype,” Murphy told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“I’ve been looking to break the under-20 record since the start of the season. It’s something that’s been on my mind since I ran my 20.60 first time.

 

 

It’s important to note Murphy’s proven sprinting pedigree.

Aidan’s mother, is two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tania Van Heer, who starred at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games, winning bronze in the women’s 100m sprint, before winning gold as part of Australia’s women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.

Tania Van Heer, Lauren Hewitt, Nova Peris and Sharon Cripps combined to win gold in the women’s 4x100m relay at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games (CGA Archive).

 

Van Heer led off the Australian 4×100 metres relay team of Lauren Hewitt, Nova Peris and Sharon Cripps to win the Commonwealth Games event.

Shortly afterwards, Van Heer joined with Lee Naylor, Tamsyn Manou (Lewis) and Susan Andrews to win the 4×400 metres relay.

Van Heer enjoyed her best years in 1998 and 1999 when she was coached by Auckland 1950 gold medallist Alastair Gordon, but sadly injured interrupted the rest of her career.

But her sprinting history is something Murphy embraces.

“I actually take it as a confidence booster [of his mother’s successes]. I’m trying to make my own legacy and step out of my Mum’s shadow because I have my own goals that I want to achieve, but the comparisons are obviously there,” Murphy told Athletics Australia.

“She started coaching me at 11-years-old, but I absolutely hated it. She had to outsource a coach because I didn’t like that feeling, but she’s so supportive and has never pushed me – I’ve always done athletics because it makes me feel good and I like running fast.”

The teenager has been firing on all cylinders this season with personal bests of 10.35 (100m), 20.41 (200m) and 46.31 (400m) on his way to demolishing multiple South Australian records – but Murphy says he is just scratching the surface of his potential.

 

 

After spending the early years of his junior career plagued by hamstring injuries, Murphy says that his progress is the product of 10-months of unhindered training under the guidance of Montreal 1976 Olympian Peter Fitzgerald.

Having locked away a swag of world junior qualifiers already this season, it appears as though Murphy will be seen in the green and gold in 2022 provided he stays in good health – but with five months until major international championships, the junior is hungry to make an impression in the senior ranks.

An impression that may come with a senior Australia debut at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

 

With thanks Athletics Australia.

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