Whilst Aussie basketball star Dante Exum has missed the entire NBA season with a knee injury, another Exum has stepped up and taken the spotlight.
Tierra Exum, the 20 year old twin sister of the Utah Jazz star, exploded onto the professional running scene on New Year’s Day, by winning the Open 70 metres at the Maryborough Gift.
Following the lead of her high-flying brother, the former gymnast, turned triple jumper\sprinter, has set her sights high and is using professional athletics as a springboard to further her career.
“My goal is to one day make an Australian Commonwealth Games team and represent Australia in the triple jump”, she said.
Introduced to professional sprinting by her coach, she sees it as an important step in her development as a triple jumper.
“Pro running is great for my speed, it’s helping me with my triple jump and I really enjoy the racing”.
As is the case for most professional runners, success in the Victorian Athletic League has its benefits.
“The prizemoney is great and it not only helps me with all the expenses associated with being an athlete but it helps pay for my mobile phone bill”, she laughed.
Like most ‘pro athletes’, she now takes aim at Easter and the world richest professional sprint race.
“As a pro sprinter it would be great to make a Stawell Gift women’s final, that would be amazing”.
“With the big money on offer though, there will be some fast girls around and it will be tough”.
Offering equal prizemoney of $60,000 for both the men’s and women’s Gift, Stawell remains the jewel in the professional athletics crown.
As an interesting side note, the Ballarat Gift meeting, in addition to the Geelong, Warnambool, Yarra Valley and Stonnington meetings, have all followed the lead of Stawell by offering equal prizemoney for men and women.
Following on from what appears to be a renaissance in females racing ‘pro’, it’s also interesting to note that junior participation in the Victorian athletic league has increased by 15%.
This, coupled with an increase in pro race meetings in 2017, including a new Sandringham Gift, sees one of Australia’s oldest sports on the comeback trail.
In addition to the $160,000 on offer at the Stawell Gift, its rich pickings on the pro circuit in the lead up to Easter, with more than $150,000 in prizemoney up for grabs at race meetings like Ballarat, Stonnington, Keilor, Geelong and Bendigo.
As for Tierra taking the spotlight from her brother, she was quick to point out that we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
“Whilst he won’t be back playing for the Jazz this season, his rehabilitation has been good and Utah have been looking after him. They know he is still young and they can see a good future for him”.
As far as Dante being ready for national duty with the Boomers at the Rio Olympics, Tierra hosed down any speculation.
“At this stage he is taking it day by day and he still has a long way to go. He will probably be back in Australia for our birthday in July but other than that I am not sure what he is doing”.