SPRINT sensation Brett Stapleton spent the recent school holidays at home in Emmaville with his family and playing rugby league for the Glen Innes juniors.
During school terms, Brett's home away from home is Toowoomba Grammar School (TGS) where he has a sports scholarship and is coached by former three-time Olympian, Debbie Wells, the school's sprint coach.
With the outstanding success and progress Brett has made in recent times, the mantle of "Emmaville Express" may be just about ready to change hands.
At present, Brett is running 100m, 200m and the gut-busting 400m and both the athlete and coach know that one of those events has to be dropped.
"But we haven't yet worked out which one it's going to be," admits quietly spoken Brett.
"Debbie reckons the 400 is my natural event while I think it's the 200.
"It's a huge workload contesting all three events with heats, semi-finals and finals and sometimes quarter-finals at big meets, all on the one day."
Brett's 2002 season began when he won his TGS age division with seven wins from as many events, setting a new school mark for the 200, equalling the record over 100 and surprising everyone, himself as much as anyone, by beating the national champion in the javelin.
He won the three sprints plus the long jump at district level, dropped the jump at Darling Downs Regionals and won the three sprints again.
He then took out the sprint treble at Queensland state titles before again taking the trifecta at Queensland GPS championships.
Three weeks before the nationals, Brett suffered a hamstring injury that curtailed his work and the transition from almost 40 degree heat in Toowoomba to snow in Hobart didn't help his preparation either.
Nevertheless, the young prodigy won his heat in each of the sprints before placing third in the 100 after a poor start, fourth in the 200, again after a less than pleasing start.
"I won my heat of the 400 'by miles' and had a good lead in the final with 150m to go before I ran out of legs," he explained.
"I'd run the 100 heat only a half hour before and hadn't really recovered."
His aim for the 2003 season which kicks off shortly is to lower his 100m PB to 10.5sec which would guarantee him selection for the World Youth event.
He wants to knock half a second from his 200 PB of 21.6 and to break 50sec for the 400 which is his PB.
– JOHN HAMILTON