Central Coast News
Local Girl Following Her Dream to Sporting Greatness
Young aspiring Central Coast athlete, Ashley Pernecker has been selected to compete at the 2018 Track & Field Tour- Canada in July. At just 13 years of age, the pocket rocket is already an inspiration to many, juggling school and a heavy training schedule, she is one determined and committed young lady who is setting the field on fire as she continues to conquer the track.
With a dream to study in America on a sport’s scholarship and to compete at the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, Ash, as she is affectionately known is ready to do all it takes to become a world class runner. Despite being in her teens, Ashley has already achieved a lot in her athletic career with her most recent achievement being selected to compete in Canada in July this year.
Like so many elite athletes, the journey to greatness is often a costly one. Pernecker and her family are hence working hard to raise funds to ensure she can race in Canada. Being the healthy athlete she is, Pernecker does not believe in selling chocolates to raise funds for a sporting event as is often traditionally done. Instead a fund has been set up to help her achieve her goals. Money raised will be go towards the cost of her team uniform, accommodation, meals, airfare and competition.
Her number 1 fan and super supportive mum, Julie Pernecker, says “no amount is too small and would mean a lot to Ashley to see people believe in her.”
Up close and personal with Coast Sport Ambassador Ashley Pernecker
Leading provider of world class integrated healthcare services, Coast Sport has been supporting Pernecker in her sporting journey and have even appointed her as a Coast Sport Ambassador. Coast Sport provides valuable access to their gym and facilities not to mention the comprehensive support of a fully integrated team to assist her in all aspects including Massage, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Sports Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.
1 on 1 interview with Ashley Pernecker
Why did you get into your sport?
When I was 8 I ran HRIS XC and out of 100 runners I came 18th. I was so cranky at my parents for taking me away on holidays and not letting me “practice running” I got in the car and argued with my parents all the way home saying I wanted a coach and never wanted to go on holidays again. A few months later after continuing to pester my parents, my mum phoned my now coach – Tom Ristuccia. I started training with him at 8 ½ and medalled at HRIS every year since. My uncle is a runner and so I wanted to run with him. Once I started winning medals, I became very competitive and fell in love with the sport even more.
What’s your preferred event?
I am still enjoying a wide range of events and like to have fun in most track and field. I haven’t decided yet what main distance to focus on long term, however if I am at a serious race I focus on the 800m, 1500m and 3km. I also enjoy longer road runs and have competed overseas and won races in 5km and 10km events. I also find the City 2 Surf and Bay 2 Bay challenging but fun. I have won a 5km race in Florida USA as a 12yr old, a 3km race in New Zealand (where I wasn’t allowed to run a longer race because I was too young, and also won a 10km race in Hawaii last year.
Greatest achievement to date?
Stand outs for me are:
3rd in Australia in 800m
1st in U16’s 10km race in Hawaii
1st Female out of 320 runners in a 5km race in Orlando, Florida
1st in 2017 12km U16’s Bay to Bay
1st in 2017 14km U16’s City to Surf – 2017 and placing 5th overall in U19’s and top 1% of all female runners
4 Silver and 2 Bronze in the 2017 NSW Country Championships
Recently qualified to compete at Nationals for 3km and 800m
Selected to compete in Canada in July this year for Track Field
What are your sporting and life goals?
When I first started training, my coach told me he had a 3-year plan to qualify for Nationals. I am pleased to say we achieved that goal together and have not looked back. I have since been to Nationals several times for both track and XC. My long-term goal for the 800m is run as close to 2 minutes as possible. I would also like to run a half marathon and eventually a full marathon and who knows – maybe one day a 100km run. I would like to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in a track event. I also hope to one day represent Australia at the Olympics and study at University in America to become a Paediatrician whilst on a sports scholarship.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
My latest biggest challenge has been knee pain due to growing so fast. This pain was bringing me to tears and costing me medals. I then came across the team at Coast Sport and worked with Leanne – exercise physiology, Matt from Podiatry, Michael from physio and Mick for my massages. Whilst it took some time and a lot of patience, I have now got my knees under control thanks to their expertise and all working together. Their focus was helping me to manage any pain I would experience and make sure my body is always well conditioned and recovered when I have a heavy schedule. I can now confidently go out there and give each race my all.
What do you like doing other than your chosen sport?
I swim, and I like playing Chess and go in a few tournaments with my school. I also like to draw and teach myself the guitar. My latest interest is learning Chinese as this is the language we are being taught this year at school.
What keeps you motivated to get up early and train?
I enjoy the squad I train with; my coach always makes running enjoyable. He always tells us training should be harder than race day. I know the more I put into my training the better the result and the quicker I will be.
How has Coast sport helped your sporting journey?
Coast Sport have helped me understand more about my running. It’s not as simple as just waking up and being ready to run. They plan my programs around my upcoming meets and make sure I have the right load for my body. They will change my program to suit how my body is responding to racing at the time. What I like most about Coast Sport – is not only are they a team of professionals that together help achieve the best result, they also ensure they can see you if you have a flare up of an injury or an important meet coming up.
I believe had I not come across Coast Sport, I would not be running to the ability I am now as I would not have the knowledge or understanding of the bigger picture when it comes to running. There is so much more to learn other than just putting one foot in front of the other. Nutrition, Stretches, Massages are all part of my routine. They are happy for my coach to be present and ask for my coach’s input and discuss their approaches to different aspects of my training and body maintenance
What advice would you give to up and coming athletes?
Don’t give up if you have a bad run. Know it’s ok to have moments where you don’t achieve what you were hoping for. Always look for a positive in each race. There is no easy way out – you need to be committed to the sport if you want to achieve the best results. Don’t be afraid to ask the older athletes for guidance/advice. Most importantly – don’t worry about what other runners are doing. Focus on yourself and beating yourself. Make your running watch your best friend and believe in yourself.
Describe a typical day in your life
Wake up, have breakfast and go to school. Come home with ½ hour spare to do some homework and then get ready for training.
Training at 4.30pm and depending on the session, finish around 6.30 – 7pm. Arrive home and eat dinner around 8pm and then if I have time I try to finish off my homework or start my projects. If I don’t have time, I will then get up early to ensure my work is done.
My coach is a school teacher so always reminds us that our grades are just as important as our running.
All my weekdays are taken up with some form of training and my weekends consist of competitions and training also.
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