PARALYMPIAN Erin Cleaver has proven herself on the international stage, but coming up against schoolmates still makes her nervous.
And beating them to the Hunter Sports High School’s top award for the second year was “just phenomenal”.
Cleaver was named the school’s sportsperson of the year at their annual awards last Wednesday night at Wests New Lambton.
She claimed bronze as a member of the T35-38 4×100 metres relay team at the Rio Paralympics to earn the school award last year.
The 17-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, repeated the feat this year after claiming silver in the T38 long jump at the World Para Athletics titles in London in July with a leap of 4.61m. She was seventh in the T38 100m. The international efforts set Cleaver apart from a long list of impressive achievers from Hunter Sports High, which had 12 national representatives in 2017.
“Just to come out of athletics, not a big competition area, and win such a big award at a school that is predominantly football is just amazing,” Cleaver said. “All of the footballers here are ready to get into the Knights or some other national team, and I get to win it. It’s just phenomenal.
“Every time I come here, it still makes me nervous. I never know if I’m going to win because there’s such amazing competition here, especially this year.”
Cleaver has just got back into training with the national titles in March and Commonwealth Games in April, both on the Gold Coast, as her targets. Her effort in London should qualify her for long jump at the Games, where she is likely to meet British world champion Olivia Breen again.
“I go into it second in the world, [Breen] will be there, and I will hopefully be able to overtake her, but we’ll have to see,” Cleaver said.
“I’m just back into jumping and starting to build up. I’m trying a new way to do my run-up. It should be good, it should be perfect by the time Comm Games comes around.”
Cleaver also hopes to compete in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games.