Jotham Kuku’s promising athletics career was kick-started at a humble garage sale.
An active kid, the Egyptian-born Kuku took part in many sports when he was younger, including soccer, basketball and table tennis.
One weekend, when he was living in Blacktown, Sydney, he saw a pair of running spikes at a garage sale.
They piqued the interest of Kuku and his brother before an argument ensued over who wanted them more.
“I was like, ‘These shoes are unique, I want to get them’,” Kuku said.
“Me and my little brother had a fight about it, but I wanted them more, so I got them and he got something else.
“Two weeks later, I started running at the track and burning everyone – that’s where my career started, I guess.”
Kuku is one of Western Athletics’ brightest young athletes.
The 15-year-old has impressed as a sprinter and long jumper, but it is in the triple jump that he is starting to make a name for himself.
He is daring to dream about representing Australia in the triple jump at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“I’m trying to get to 2020 Tokyo at a young age,” he said.
Kuku showed the world his tremendous potential at the Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney earlier this year.
On his first jump, Kuku moved into a nice rhythm, got his form right and took off for the sand pit, recording a massive jump of 14.27 metres.
That was a personal best for Kuku and a Western Athletics club record.
With the aid of club coaches Stuart Macauley and Kylie Smith, Kuku had worked towards breaking the 14-metre mark, but was thrilled to smash it on his first jump at the nationals.
Kuku finished on top of the podium with a gold medal and was suddenly Australia’s under-17 champion.
“Getting that 14.27 in the triple jump in my first jump was a real big milestone for me,” Kuku said.
“I was like this is crazy, I was astounded – if I could put the adrenalin into a cup, it would be an ocean.”
The performance has opened some doors for Kuku.
The Tarneit resident is part of the Athletics Victoria Talent Target Program and the Athletics Australia under-17 development squad.
He feels blessed to have the support of his coaches at Western Athletics, friends at Tarneit Senior College and the community at Victory Grace Church, where his dad, Nathan, is senior pastor.
“Everyone that’s been around me supporting me – they’re the reason I get to do stuff like this,” Kuku said.
“I’m trying to improve myself, I’m trying to pick up new training techniques, new work-outs and training I can do with myself if no one is around.
“And just to meet new people and understand where they’re trying to go to and work with them.”