LOOKING BACK TO MARCH 28, 2007
Not many 20-year-olds are described as being the best prospect to come out of their
sport in the past few years, but superlatives such as this are flying thick and fast for Jeff Riseley.
The Harkaway prodigy has exploded onto the national athletics scene this year after several barnstorming runs in his pet event, the 800 metres.
Riseley readily admits that he had toiled in relative obscurity, even in December last year, but that had all changed in 2007.
Australian number-one ranking? Tick.
Victory in an internationally contested race? Tick.
Nike contract? Tick.
It would be enough to blow the mind of any up-and-coming youngster, but anyone that knows the ultra-talented middle-distance runner would know it is his easy-going nature that stands him apart.
“The past few months has happened so quick. I’ve gone from being a Knox runner to being labelled as one of the most talented prospects of the past few years,” he said.
“Prior to Christmas, we weren’t even thinking of management or Nike deals or travelling overseas – we were just running.”
He set Olympic Park alight on March 2 in the Telstra ‘A’ Series, which doubles as Melbourne’s leg of the International Association of Athletics Federations World Athletics Tour.
Riseley obliterated his best time in the 800 by 1.5 seconds in leaving recent three-time national champion Nick Bromley and other internationally recognised athletes in his wake.
“After the race, I was real hyper. I didn’t warm down and I had heaps of mates there and I was chatting to everyone,” he reminisced.
His time of 1:46.88 earned him the number-one Australian ranking in 2007 and slots him in at number 27 in the all-time national rankings.
It is the best time recorded by an Australian since Grant Cremer ran 1:45.21 on 27
Just a week later, Riseley stormed into second place at the Australian Athletics Championships that he did not even qualify for last year.
The winning time was slower than Riseley’s time the previous week, but any disappointment quickly faded when he considered his past few months.
“It was my first nationals, so to come second is not terribly bad,” he said.
Legendary Australian athletics coach Nic Bideau is enamoured with the young tyro’s potential and believes he has massive scope for further improvement.
“He’s got enormous potential and is the best kid I’ve seen for a couple of years. Just the way he runs, he’s a good athlete and has the right mentality,” he said.
“I’m really excited about seeing what he can do.”
Riseley’s one-year deal with Nike has also opened his eyes to a completely different world.
“I just got the terms for it last week. I’ve been getting sent a lot of gear, which saves my parents buying it,” he said.
“I had 11 pairs of shoes turn up at my house the other day. It was like Christmas.”
Riseley has run up to 100 kilometres in a single week to reach this point and body management has become of prime importance.
His physiotherapist, Barry Herbert, and Complete Chiropractic in Berwick have become pivotal tools in his ascension to the top, with the next step being qualification for August’s world championships in Osaka.
Riseley’s best time is two hundredths of a second off the ‘B’ standard qualifying time for the competition and he will embark on overseas trips to Doha and Osaka in May to achieve it.
“I just want the (Australian) uniform. To have that would be insane,” he said.
“Everyone dreams of representing their country.”