Billie Arch has learnt already that not everything goes to plan in the life of a young athlete.
But her adaptability and refusal to be knocked down is proof she has all the makings of a champion.
For the past five years, Arch has owned the 400 metre event at both little athletics for Brimbank and in youth competition for Western Athletics.
She has been crowned national champion five times and all indications were that a sixth crown wasn’t too far away.
With none of her fellow competitors able to stop her, only bad luck could get in Arch’s way.
The 16-year-old was struck down by a viral infection last year which derailed her preparation for the 2014-15 season.
But despite being sidelined for two months, Arch didn’t want her hard work to go to waste.
“When I got sick it meant I couldn’t do 400 metre races because it would be too tough on my immune system,” she said.
“With my coaches, we thought I might as well try long jump. It would be a bit easier on me and it might just be a bit of fun.
“From there, things just sort of happened.”
Soon after making the switch, Arch finished third at the Victorian Championships, which qualified her for the nationals.
And despite being a relative rookie in the event, she went on to claim the gold medal.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Arch said. “I still don’t really believe it. I don’t even really see myself as a long jumper.”
The win meant Arch was selected to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Games held in Samoa in September.
And her fairytale run continued, with the Keilor Downs College student smashing her personal best by 15 centimetres to jump 6.04 metres.
The effort was enough to claim a silver medal and highlight her name as a rising star on the world stage.
“It’s definitely the highlight for me so far,” she said. “It was such an amazing experience to compete overseas and compete in Australian gear. It was absolutely crazy.”
With her health now back to 100 per cent, Arch will continue to try her luck in the long jump, with an eye towards qualifying for next year’s world youth championships.
For her outstanding sporting achievements Arch has been named as a monthly nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star award.
The award is run by Sunshine Western Region Sports Club in conjunction with Star Weekly.
Arch will receive $1000 donated by Yarraville Club Cricket Club and other prizes to assist in her future sporting goals.
The Don Deeble Rising Star award recognises young athletes in the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at a state and national level.
To nominate someone for the award, email firstname.lastname@example.org