For a rising star on the basketball and netball courts, Danielle O’Toole makes a pretty handy shot putter.
Despite never competing in athletics events outside of her school sport, the multi-talented 11-year-old from Maiden Gully has proven herself to be one of the best young throwing talents in the state.
At the recent Victorian primary school track and field championships in Melbourne, Danielle pushed the 2kg metal ball a whopping 10.94m to win the silver medal in her age group.
She also finished 11th in the discus, a highly technical event that can take years of practice to master.
But Danielle doesn’t have time for that.
She’s too busy playing basketball for her club and the Bendigo Braves under-14C squad, holding down her role as goal defence for Maiden Gully Primary’s top junior netball team, and training for her school’s tilt at the 2012 Energy Breakthrough human-powered vehicle challenge in Maryborough this month.
The only shot put and discus preparation she does is visit a family friend for some coaching tips in the weeks leading up to the inter-school competitions, and have a couple of throws in her back yard or down at the local cricket ground.
But behind this laid-back approach is an extremely determined young lady.
Last year, at her first ever state school athletics final, she claimed top-eight results in both the throwing events but missed a medal in the shot put by a mere 9cm.
She vowed not to let that happen again – and she delivered on her promise.
Danielle is not the only member of her family with natural talent in the shot put.
After watching her compete last year, older sister Alex decided she too would give the event a go and qualified for the state finals.
Though she was easily the smallest competitor in the 12-13 years field, the strong grade sixer surprised her rivals by recording a distance of 8.50m with the 3kg shot and finished in fourth place.
Both O’Toole girls improved by about half a metre on their previous personal bests – set just two weeks earlier at the Loddon-Campaspe regional event in Bendigo.
Danielle’s silver medal earned her an invitation to nominate for the School Sport Victoria representative team. But she has instead opted to concentrate on her other sporting endeavours.