Hammer hits spot

melp macarthur chronicle campbelltown

13, January 2009 By Vera Bertola

IT took a silver medal at the Pacific Schools Games to convince Melissa Prior that the hammer throw, not discus, was her sport. And it took selection in the national team for the Australian Youth Olympics Festival - for hammer throw - to confirm that her future in the sport is actually quite bright.

Prior, 16, of Kearns, is one of a small but talented contingent of Macarthur area athletes representing Australia at the international festival, a legacy of the Sydney Olympics. The festival, which starts tomorrow and ends on Sunday, has attracted more than 1550 athletes aged 13 to 19, who will compete across 17 Olympic sports.

Prior's coach and father David said he believed the teenager was a medal chance if she threw at her best. "Of course, it comes down to the day," he said.

As a coach, Prior has had great success at previous youth festivals. Melissa's sister Natalie won a bronze medal in 2005 and Ashleigh Mumberson and Melissa Hilder won silver and bronze in 2007.

David Prior said it was only at the Pacific Schools Games in early December that Melissa reluctantly agreed to focus on the hammer throw. "She was ninth in the discus but won silver in the hammer throw, smashing the games record and setting a PB," he said. "It was hard for her to accept but the results spoke for themselves." The silver medal also boosted her national ranking to second place in the 16 years girls and it ensured her spot at the Youth Olympics Festival.