By Russell Bennett
Right before Keenan O’Hanlon takes off at the end of the runway, he always goes through the same routine – he looks to the sky for a boost from his Poppy, pulls up his socks, and then it’s go time.
When he takes flight, he has to be seen to be believed – soaring through the air like something out of this world.
The Cranbourne North 14-year-old is part of the sports academy program at Alkira Secondary and since March last year, his routine – and his trusty favourite spikes, which are a full size too small – have helped him rack up an astonishing 11 state or national medals across the long jump and triple jump.
His personal best in his pet event, the triple jump, came in March this year when he leapt a staggering 12.83 metres at the Little Athletics State Track and Field Titles.
And he’s still only 5’4”.
To put that into context, a regulation AFL goal square extends only nine metres out from the goal posts.
Whether it’s at state or national events, Keenan has made quite the habit out of winning – improving his triple-jump personal best by about a metre-and-a-half over the past 12 months alone.
When the Cranbourne Little Athletics member competed in the Australian Little Athletics Championships in Adelaide last April, he did so with a broken wrist … and he still won a bronze medal.
“Coming second so many times played a really big part in it,” Keenan said of his astonishing success.
“Once I won once, I had to keep winning. I hate losing.”
Keenan won six silver medals before his first gold, but now he gets angry when he doesn’t win.
“I don’t even have the best technique in triple jump – I just do what I do,” he explained.
“I don’t try and jump in a specific way – I just do what feels comfortable.
“I do a big hop, not that big of a step, and then a big jump to finish.”
Although his favourite spikes are now a full size too small and are starting to feel a touch uncomfortable, Keenan refuses to let them go. He always medals in them.
But it’s not the spikes that give him his unbelievable ability – it’s his hard work at training and his relentless approach to competing.
Keep an eye out for the name Keenan O’Hanlon over the coming years. It belongs to one truly special athlete.