Jai Gordon never has to worry about running late to class.
The University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) sport and exercise student is not only the fastest person on campus, he’s also Australia’s fastest junior athlete.
The under-20 Australian 100m champion will soon fly to Miami, USA for a pre-departure camp with the Australian team before competing at the World Athletics Under 20 Championships in Columbia, starting August 1.
Jai was also selected as a member of the men’s 4x100m relay squad preparing for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham but will skip the event as it coincides with the under 20 championships.
The 19-year-old sprinter from Toowoomba, who has his sights set on the 2024 Paris Olympics, said he was looking forward to making his international competition debut.
“I’m super excited to compete at the championships,” he said.
“I’ve had my eyes set on it since 2019 and with Athletics Australia not sending the team last year, I’m keen to finally test myself against the best in the world."
Jai ran the fastest time of his career at the Australian Track and Field Championships in March to win the Under 20 Men 100m Final in 10.28sec.
With a similar time, Jai could earn himself a place in the final at the world championships, or even threaten the podium spots.
“I have gained a lot of confidence in myself over the past season, and I believe that confidence will help springboard me nicely into the championships,” he said.
“Although the past three months have been tough with nagging injuries, I believe I have finally broken through, and I am back running fast again.
“The World Junior Championships will be my first taste of international competition and will provide me with a great stepping stone to the 2024 Olympics."
Although he was gifted with speed, Jai didn’t discover his love for sprinting until he was 14.
He excelled in many other sports, representing the Darling Downs at cricket and playing Aussie Rules for the Brisbane Lions Youth Academy.
The turning point came when he raced at a Darling Downs regional athletics meet in 2017, coming away with silver and bronze in the 100m and 200m respectively.
“I wasn’t always the fastest or even fast for that matter; it's taken a lot of hard work, pain and disappointment to get me to where I am today,” he said.
“I am fuelled daily with an obsession to become the fastest, something I believe you need if you want to compete at the next level.”
Jai hopes his achievements will go further than his talent on the track.
The former Centenary Heights State High School and Toowoomba Grammar School student is in his first year of a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology (Honours) at UniSQ.
“I have always had an interest in sport, and I wanted to pursue a profession that could run alongside my athletics career,” said Jai, who works as trainer at the Willows Health and Lifestyle Centre.
“Exercise physiology appealed to me right away.
“It is very rewarding being able to help people in your local community with prevention and management of injuries and chronic conditions.”
Jai is being supported in his studies by the University’s Elite Athlete Program, which helps students navigate the competing demands of sport and study.
Have a passion for sport, exercise, health or fitness? With a combination of sports and exercise courses and professional placements with our Sport and Exercise Clinic, Strength and Conditioning and Research Laboratories, UniSQ’s Sport and Exercise and Strength and Conditioning degrees prepare you for a career in the rapidly expanding health, sports and fitness industry.