In the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics this Mentone Grammar student is turning heads in the athletics world, and she’s only 15.
In the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics this Mentone Grammar student is turning heads in the athletics world, and she’s only 15.

Is this schoolgirl the next track prodigy?

Craig Mottram certainly isn't offended and tells the story more to explain how down-to-earth Australia's potential next track star is.

He was sitting alongside Claudia Hollingsworth at Box Hill recently before a mixed 5000m event was about to take place.

The 15-year-old leaned closer to her coach and asked: "Have you ever run a 5k Craig?"

He couldn't help but laugh and it's why he's so excited about the Year 10 student from Mentone Grammar.

For the record Mottram is one of Australia's greatest ever distance runners, winning a world championships bronze medal and Commonwealth Games silver medal over 5000m.

Hollingsworth is totally unaffected by anything, she's like a blank canvas who has the world at her feet given her undoubted sporting ability.

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Claudia Hollingsworth could be our next big thing in athletics. Picture: Alex Coppel
Claudia Hollingsworth could be our next big thing in athletics. Picture: Alex Coppel

Swimming, touch football and Aussie rules are all in her wheelhouse but they're currently playing second fiddle to athletics.

And the reason why was on display earlier this month when she charged home behind Olympian Linden Hall as she broke the 1000m Australian record.

It had seasoned athletics onlookers standing up and taking notice as Hollingsworth left national 800m record holder Catriona Bisset in her wake.

"She ran amazingly," Hall said afterwards. "I've seen her run a couple of times this year and she's only going to get faster as she learns the ropes more and gets more race experience."

Sporting talent runs in the family for Hollingsworth who has a twin, Gemma, and older sister, Sunday, who is has competed at Australian championships level on the trampoline.

She deliberately hasn't looked too far ahead with her running yet - the mention of being 27 at the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games gets a shy laugh.

"I really enjoy it at the moment and I'm just excited to see where it might take me in the future," she says.

Mottram knows a bit about dealing with child prodigies given he trained with Georgie Clarke in Geelong at the start of his career.

Clarke represented Australia at the age of 16, making the semi-finals of the 1500m at the Sydney 2000 Olympics but then never scaled those heights again.

Claudia Hollingsworth trains while her coach Craig Mottram watches on. Picture: Alex Coppel
Claudia Hollingsworth trains while her coach Craig Mottram watches on. Picture: Alex Coppel

"We are going to be treading very carefully," Mottram explains. "She is still a kid and she needs to enjoy growing up and certainly not overtraining.

"Over the summer holidays she went away with her family, down to Apollo Bay diving for abalone and the last thing on her mind was training.

"That's how it should be, I mean she might be good enough to race internationally in the next 12 months but we've got plenty of time and we'll most likely stick to her age group."

Hollingsworth is more than happy to go with the flow and keep taking notes from the guy who has run a few 5ks over the journey.

Originally published as Is this Melbourne schoolgirl the next track prodigy?



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