Stawell’s Tom Walker will compete in the National Athletic Championships in Sydney next week.
The long distance runner who lives in Stawell but trains in Ararat, qualified for the 3000m event in February after beating the qualifying time by more than 20 seconds.
Walker said he was feeling the pressure after missing out on qualifying in previous attempts.
"I entered the Victorian Athletic Championships at Lakeside Stadium and had to run a qualifying time of 9.15 minutes,” he said.
“I had run two races and missed out on the time but the third race I ran 8.53 minutes.
“It was my last attempt, so I was pretty relieved when I got there within the time.”
The 16-year-old has been training for the event since December 2015.
The three-kilometre race is the only event Walker will compete in at his first national championships on March 29.
He said he was not putting too much pressure on himself at the event.
“I just want to have fun and test myself, it will be a good learning experience for me competing at such a high level,” he said.
“I am not really expecting too much from the event regarding results, but it will still be good to be a part of the championships.”
Following the event at Sydney’s Olympic Park, Walker will return to Stawell for the Gift.
Walker said he will turn his focus to other events after the Stawell Gift.
“After the gift, it will be time to get stuck into the cross country season and start training for those events,” he said.
Walker’s coach Marcus Cooper said there was a lot to like about his preparation for the event.
“It is his dedication and hard work that sticks out,” he said.
“Tom is very focused on what he wants to do and where he wants to get to and that shows at every training session.
“He is putting in a lot of hours and a lot of effort into this.”
Cooper said he thinks Walker is a chance to finish in the top half of the standings.
“I reckon he will go really well, he has prepared himself properly and had a look at the times of the other athletes,” he said.
“He knows what he needs to do during the race and he is mentally prepared.
“I would not be surprised if he snuck into the top placings and finishes on the podium.”