Ollie Zavone's meteoric rise through the athletics ranks saw him surprise everyone on the way to an eighth-place finish at the School Sport Australia National Athletics Championships.
The Tacking Point Public School student had never previously won a place ribbon at any school carnival prior to his first-place finish at North Coast level earlier this year.
His eighth-place finish in the national 200-metre event in Brisbane on November 18 followed which came as the result of hours of training.
Everyone played their part including his parents and school teachers Mick Connolly, Matt Bale and Jim Matsinos.
Connolly said Ollie had finished third at Lower North Coast level before his first-place finish at North Coast and then fourth in Sydney at state level.
"He probably shocked us a bit," Connolly said.
"If you asked me if he was going to go to nationals at the start of the year I would have said no, but he's shocked himself and shocked everyone else too. It's been a really good journey."
Ollie had to learn how to run on a synthetic track as well as how to utilise starting blocks.
"Technically he had to learn a fair bit pretty quickly, just more to do with blocks, running in spikes and on synthetic tracks because North Coast don't have a synthetic track," Connolly said.
"Then when he got to Sydney [for state] he kept his improvement and just got quicker each time."
Mum Dayna Moritz said the biggest learning curve for Ollie was how most other runners at national level had full-time coaches and training programs.
"He had his dad's old coach who came out of retirement for a couple of sessions along with Mr Connolly and Mr Bale," she said.
"He's never even won a medal at a school carnival before."
The conditions for the final were different to normal in that they were not only run on a synthetic track, but under lights.
"They ran the races at night because it was so hot there; the last day was 36 degrees so they were pretty happy they didn't have to race in the day," she said.
Ollie admitted the key to his success was through pure hard work.
"I put lots of effort in this time [because] I probably haven't been pushing myself as much as I should be," he said.
"Now we're looking at either starting Little A's or getting a coach because I really enjoyed having a coach."
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