Maribyrnong athletes jump into Simplot Games

Aspiring Maribyrnong athletes are winging their way to the US this week to take on some of the world’s top young talent.

An eight-member team from Maribyrnong Sports Academy will be among more than 2000 athletes competing in the Simplot Games in Idaho from Thursday until Saturday.

Coach Darren Clarke says competing internationally is an invaluable opportunity for rising athletic stars such as team captains Jessie Andrew and Celeste Mucci.

“It’s the first overseas experience for a lot of these athletes; they get to see what it’s like to compete in another country,” he said.

“It’s often their first experience of indoor athletics. It’s an exciting and scary thing when they first see an indoor track.”

Four of the team are returning for their second or third time, while four will be making their debut.

Sprinter Jessie Andrew, 16, said this would be her third visit to the Games.

Each time you go away you learn something new. It’s a great atmosphere, the number of people you get in the stands is crazy.”

Simplot ambassador Steven Hooker said early exposure to international competition could give young athletes a competitive edge.

The Olympic pole vault gold medallist said he looked forward to travelling with the team as a mentor.

“It’s a great development competition, a good opportunity in an environment that’s unfamiliar,” he said.

“You are pretty isolated in Australia, it’s good to know where you stand in the world standings.”