Grace Molloy made a major breakthrough in her fledgling international career, as she won two medals at the Australian National Championships.
Despite having over two years left in the junior ranks, Grace elected to compete against the cream of the Southern Hemisphere's best international orienteers in the National Sprint, and was rewarded with her first silverware at senior level, finishing with a time of 16.09.
Grace commented post-race “The course at Renmark had lots of artificial barriers, which turned it into quite a tricky proposition. I took the race cautiously, as I didn't want to get caught out, and only really pushed it when I was really confident. I beat three athletes who are just back from the World Championships in Latvia, although they were close behind me, so I'm pretty pleased with my performance and delighted with the result” .
After helping coach the Australian Schools team for a week, it was straight back into action and the Long distance event. Grace was right up there for the whole course, but ultimately the decision to take a path route on the long leg meant she dropped from 2nd at the halfway stage to 3rd, finishing in 80.21, behind two athletes with a total of ten senior world championships behind them
It's been a busy end to the season for Grace, as she began her Antipodean adventure with a double win at the West Australian Championships in Perth on the previous weekend. In the Middle Distance race, she had a 14 ½ minute winning margin to open her account for new club Goldseekers Orienteers.
With all the classes from W18 to W35 on the same course, Grace elected to forego her her normal W18 entry and run up two classes in W21, coming back in 41.32 for the win, and was a hefty 49 minutes up on the next quickest junior athlete.
The following day, it was the turn of the West Australia Long Distance Championship, and, running again as a W21, Grace was just outside the 60 minute barrier (60.08), but was 12 minutes ahead of the pack at the quaintly named Ngangaguringguring. The rocky terrain was a proverbial mile away from her usual fare, training in Beecraigs Park, and kangaroos, as well as anthills and bare rock outcrops were amongst the hazards on the course.
It was almost a perfect four from four in the major races, as Grace found herself at the head of the pack going into the spectator control with five to play in the Australian Middle Distance event at Crooked Straight. However, some deep gullies in the latter stage of the race cost valuable seconds, and Grace slipped to 5th place, finishing in 37.35, 45 seconds off the podium
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