TWO of Tamworth's fastest-rising athletics stars are set to match it with the country's best at this weekend's national athletics championships in Perth.
Emma Klasen and Liam Gordon will both be vying for gold medals, and qualification in Australia's world junior championships team.
Klasen, will compete in her fifth-consecutive championships, in the under-18 200 and 100 metre sprints, while Gordon will be setting off for his first national competition in the under-14 400 metre event.
The duo have overcome several challenges en-route to the nationals, including being coached via correspondence by Sydney-based coach Michael Dooley.
"It is tough not having your coach around all the time, but we are making it work," Klasen told the Leader.
"You have to rely pretty heavily on technology to be able to follow the programs we get every three weeks.
"It's not easy and not many kids do it, but it is going pretty well and certainly helped us get to this point."
As well as not having her coach around regularly, Klasen said she had also overcome a hamstring injury in time for the recent NSW titles.
"I actually had a 15 centimetre tear in my hamstring from a dancing injury," she said.
"I spent eight months rehabbing that, so to make the state titles team was amazing.
"Now, I'd love to make the world juniors team, but seeing as I've been out so long with an injury, I'm just really looking forward to running fast and having fun out on the track."
As for Gordon, while he is competing in a different event, he too has set lofty goals for himself.
"I've got an expectation of running a time under 54 seconds and making the top three," he said.
"I'll just be looking to keep my preparation nice and simple, and rely on my training."
The pair will fly over to Perth on Thursday ahead of the three-day competition over the weekend.