Commonwealth Games

It’s hard to think that I competed at the Commonwealth Games only 2 months ago. When people ask me about it, it feels like I’m reminiscing on an event that happened last year.  It’s crazy how quickly we have had to reset and plan for the rest of the year. But I do love the opportunity to retell my story. I get to re-live that night and the competition that unfolded in Carrara Stadium.

Our call room was fairly non eventful this year. Everything was well organized, the officials were efficient and prompt with marshaling us and all my fellow competitors were just ‘doing their thing’. It almost felt too smooth. One of the things I work on as an athlete is preparing for the “what if’s” and having Plan B, C and D in place to cope with anything that is thrown my way in the lead up to the start of competition, and without a doubt call room normally offers those moments. However, not this year, no funny stories to share from this one. Well done Australia, you have conquered the call room.

Moving out to the field was fantastic; it really is a moving experience walking out into a home crowd. You hear stories from athletes who have competed at home before and the one thing they speak about so often, and so fondly of is the crowd, and I can now truly appreciate what they mean, and I now also get to share those stories. It makes your heart swell with pride and fills you with raw energy when you can look into a crowd of people and see so many Aussie flags, and people waving, smiling and cheering for you. Never have I been in a competition with such a responsive crowd, because I was in green and gold. I got a cheer the moment I stepped on the runway and a cheer regardless of the distance I threw. Thank you for making those moments after I threw so enjoyable. Too often it’s an immediate reaction to the release of the javelin and the distance, good or bad, but you brought me back to enjoying the experience and the moment that little bit longer.

I was nervous going into my first round throw, but that’s not uncommon. It means a lot to me to stand on the runway in my Australian uniform in front of family and friends, and a home crowd to fight it out for a medal. I put together a sufficient opening throw, which would put me into the bronze medal position after the first round, behind Kathryn Mitchell (AUS) and Sunette Viljoen (SA). And this is where I would stay for the next 4 rounds, with no improvement on my first round attempt. This is where things got interesting.

For those that have watched me compete over the years, you would appreciate that I conduct myself in a fairly simplistic manner out on the field. I tend to stick to myself, probably lie down between rounds, wave at the cameras, and I’m most often smiling. But Comm Games brought out an aspect of my competitive nature that doesn’t normally surface in javelin competitions. Going into round 5 I thought I had been bumped into 4th position, and that just wasn’t good enough. I was going through the motions on the runway and was throwing below par, in terms of what I knew I was capable of doing.  I had flipped a switch going into round 5, fire in my belly and attack on the runway. I missed the hit on my javelin but I knew what I needed to do. So between round 5 and 6 I paced the side line, I drilled what I wanted to do on the runway and I repeated to myself out loud that ‘I could do this’, ‘this was my moment’, ‘move into the throw’.  I was so fuelled with focus, determination and conviction. And that’s what I took into my final round. One of my most vivid memories was looking at my coach, Mike Barber, before I stepped onto the runway for that final throw. He looked at me and said “you got this”, with a little chest pump, and my response was “I got this”, with my own chest pump. I walked to my mark asking the crowd for a lift, I gave myself one last lift with a “c’mon” and that was it. I don’t recall any of movement on the runway from that throw. It was me moving off the mark and the next thing I recall is me yelling at my javelin. ME, yelling at my javelin as it flew through the stadium! That is unheard of. It was not a planned yell, it was my outlet for all the emotions that had built up, and it is so funny to hear when I watch the replay.

My demeanor in those last two rounds of competition could be described as quite uncharacteristic of me, I think immediately looking back at it, even I was quite shocked.  My technique wasn’t quite holding up for me that night, and I had to find another way to get a distance on the board. That was it, using the fire in my belly, allowing it to breathe and using its energy! I learned a lot about myself from that competition.


Winning the silver medal that night was my victory, and I certainly made the most of my lap around the stadium celebrating that win. I got to share that moment with so many special people. I had friends, training partners and family all in the crowd, and taking a moment to embrace them on the fence was so special. I got so caught up in celebrating that I had an official run after me to stop me because they were starting a 200m race and I was making too much noise with the crowd! I think I can definitely say I felt like I was the only one on the track at that point in time.  Moments of big celebration come so rarely for us as athletes, especially in comparison to how often we spend training.  I really wanted to make the most of every minute of that celebration, soak up the atmosphere of the home crowd and create long lasting memories.

Sharing my story really does allow me to re-live that night and it re-ignites all the emotions that came with it.  It always reminds me how proud I am to compete for Australia and how much I love throwing javelin.  Re-telling my story also allows me a moment of reflection, to enjoy how much I have achieved, but it also definitely brings a drive and determination to keeping chasing my dreams, I just love what I do!

Kelsey-Lee Barber