Australian sprinter Riley Day at home in Beaudesert is looking forward to representing her country at the Commonwealth Games. Pics Adam Head
Australian sprinter Riley Day at home in Beaudesert is looking forward to representing her country at the Commonwealth Games. Pics Adam Head

From vomiting to Riley’s big day

AS a junior Riley Day would get so nervous before a race she would lay in the foetal position and vomit.

Today, the Beaudesert track star will step on to the track to compete in the 200m heats in front of the world at the Commonwealth Games as a confident 18-year-old ready to take on the best.

It's a far cry from the youngster whose career nearly ended before it began due to the crippling pre-race anxiety that had mother Nikki Day ready to pull her out of the sport.

"She used to suffer really badly from nerves," Day said.

"She would be vomiting and in the foetal position before she went on to the track from the age of 10."

Day said it came to a head when her daughter was 12 and competing at nationals in Adelaide.

"We had to leave her in the pre-race call room and she was saying she couldn't do it," Day said.

"She hadn't eaten for two days, was vomiting constantly and she was in the call room crying."

Day went on to win the 100m and 200m double but her mother was ready to call it quits.

"I nearly pulled her out because I couldn't do it as a parent, I couldn't watch her go through it again," Day said.

Soon after her win Day won an award and school and the family used the money to take the talented teenager to renowned sports psychologist Phil Jauncey she said saved her career.

"The psychologist said she had trained her brain to think she needed to feel like that (really nervous) before she competes," Day said.

Riley Day (right) with her coach Donna Thomas at last year's London world athletics championships
Riley Day (right) with her coach Donna Thomas at last year's London world athletics championships

"Just one visit and she has been 100 per cent better ever since."

Day was three years old when her mum recognised her running potential.

"She used to run around the backyard with thongs on and catch her brother who is two years older than her, and fast himself," Day said.

The budding sprinter dominated school events and had to race the male members at Beaudesert and Districts Little Athletics Club in order to get some competition.

Day's biggest rival has come in the form of Ella Connolly, 17, who will be in the stands cheering today.

The pair have swapped positions on the podium at state and national level for the several years before Connolly's shift to the 400m.

Day still trains on the same grass tracks at Beaudesert where she built her speed, only stepping on to a tartan track once a week in the lead up to the Games where she will face Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson.

Donna Thomas, who has coached Day through her entire career, said the grass track was a major reason why she had become so fast.

"It definitely makes you stronger training on grass and helps you avoid injury," Thomas said.

"The tartan is quite hard to run on. Riley has always had it together and was always quite muscular, strong and determined."