Victorian All-Star #6 – Jaryd Clifford

Meet Jaryd Clifford!

We decided to ask Jaryd some questions ahead of the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships to see what drives him as an athlete and a person…

Athletics Victoria: Thanks for being with us Jaryd!
Jaryd Clifford: Thanks guys.

AV: Firstly, how old are you?
JC: I’m 17-years-old.

AV: And which club do you represent?
JC: Diamond Valley Athletic Club.

AV: How long have you been doing athletics for?
JC: I’ve been training for 4 years.

AV: Fairly fresh to the sport then! Did you get involved with Little Athletics?
JC: I did 2 years of Little Athletics with Diamond Valley.

AV: Were your parents athletes?
JC: My parents are sporty. Mum was a good basketballer and Dad is aiming to run in the Melbourne Marathon later on this year!

AV: What do you love about your specific events?
JC: I love the challenge. The idea of pushing yourself to your limits. When you’re hurting in a race you find out things about yourself that you may never have found without running.

AV: With a whirlwind past 12 months, what goals are you setting yourself for the future?
JC: In the last 12 months I’ve been able to tick off some big goals. I ran in the Paralympic Game,s and medaled in able bodied races at both National Championships. This season has been my first without having to think about qualifying for Rio every race I run. The IPC World Championships are in London in July and at this stage I will be running the T13 1500m where hopefully I’ll be able to break my streak of three 7th place finishers at major international championships. The long term dreams, results wise, are about seeing how fast I can run and how hard I can push myself in the major races. If that means a gold medal in the Paralympic Games or a spot in the Olympic Games, I would definitely happy with that. They are the big dreams.

AV: You are rapidly becoming renowned for an aggressive racing style, as someone who is often one of the smaller athletes in stature, where does this fearless tactical sense come from?
JC: I like racing aggressively. Over the past few seasons I’ve been borderline qualifying for national teams and have had to worry about times first and medals second. I lose no respect for athletes that compete tactically, if that is what works for them, but I believe that the most exciting races and most impressive wins come when athletes really go for it. This season I ran a fast 1500m early (3:49.05) and that has allowed me to practice running different styled races which has been really helpful in teaching me different ways to race. The upcoming National Championships will be another perfect opportunity to practice some strategies before heading to London later this year.

AV: Having raced at the highest level of Paralympic competition, how do you approach races of a national level after having gained international experience?
JC: I get as nervous before a National Championship as I do the Paralympic Games. I want to perform well just as much as I wanted to perform well in my primary school cross country. I think most athletes would understand that feeling. The international experience definitely helps me in dealing with those nerves and being mentally ready for the races at Nationals. A great piece of advice I received before Rio was to just control the controllable. Don’t think about the end result, think about the process.

AV: Away from athletics, what do you get up to for fun?
JC: Away from running I’m a bit of a book nerd and I like to write. Also, as I’m turning 18 this year I reckon it would be a cool experience to learn how to drive. Not being able to see properly past the bonnet will make that tricky, but there is a program that gives visually impaired people the opportunity to feel what it’s like to drive. So I can assure you of your safety out on the roads. It will just be a one off… and probably on a race track!!!

AV: Thanks for your time Jaryd!
JC: Cheers guys!

Catch Jaryd in the 1500m and 5000m during the Australian Athletics Championships (Sunday 26th March – Sunday 2nd April).