Australian hurdles star Michelle Jenneke has paid tribute to her mentor following the death of legendary Australian athletics coach Gary Bourne this week.
Bourne, 68, was the former president of Queensland Athletics and is a life member of Athletics Australia.
Australia’s most successful horizontal jumps coach, Bourne was the mastermind behind the Australian records of Olympic medalists Mitchell Watt and Bronwyn Thompson, the world championship gold medal and world record of Carlee Beattie, and he also guided Henry Frayne to Commonwealth silver, among other achievements.
Jenneke was one of many athletes to benefit from Bourne’s advice and she posted a touching tribute to her “incredible man” on Instagram.
“Rest in peace Gary. I am incredibly lucky to have had this amazing man as my coach and mentor,” she posted.
‘More than just a great coach, he was wise, funny, kind and caring, and we will all miss him dearly. Thanks for everything Gaz.’
Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke has paid tribute to her mentor Gary Bourne (pictured together), who died this week aged 68.
Jenneke described Bourne as “an extraordinary man” who was a close friend as well as one of his coaches.
Thanks to Bourne, Jenneke is back on the world stage where she reached the semi-finals at this year’s World Championships
Athletics Australia president Jane Flemming said the entire athletics community in Australia would be affected by the loss of Bourne.
“The passing of Gary Bourne is a huge loss to Australian athletics,” Flemming said.
“In the world of athletics, Gary was considered a jumping guru.
“He was head coach of the National Aerials Center at QAS, but he was more than a coach. He has also been a mentor, educator and guide who has led countless athletes to reach the highest levels of the Olympic, World and Commonwealth rankings.
“His unwavering dedication, selflessness, passion and commitment transformed athletes into champions and transformed individuals into exceptional human beings.
“Gary’s legacy will forever resonate in the hearts of the Queensland and Australian sporting community, reminding us that the greatness of a coach lies not only in the records broken, but also in the lives touched and inspired .
“He leaves behind a void in Australian athletics that will be difficult to fill, but his influence will continue to inspire generations as we approach Brisbane 2032 and beyond.”
Jenneke became a household name in 2012 thanks to her “wiggle” pre-race routine.
Jenneke struggled at the 2016 Olympics due to injury, but made a huge comeback at the 2022 World Athletics Championships.
Jenneke struggled to shake off her reputation for her pre-race dancing but is now in great shape
Jenneke, known for her viral pre-race dance at the 2012 Junior World Championships, faced challenges after the 2016 Rio Games.
In Rio, she finished sixth in her 100m hurdles heat and her campaign ended abruptly. Australian athletics coach Craig Hilliard criticized his form and suggested distractions could have contributed to his performance.
“This is something I need to discuss with her and carry out her program.” She certainly didn’t arrive here in the shape she should have arrived in,” Hilliard said in 2016.
But Jenneke hit back, saying it was an injury and not poor preparation that cost her in Rio.
“I came into camp for the Olympics in great shape and got injured while I was there,” she said.
“I didn’t run well in the Olympics, but that has nothing to do with me not being good.
“Craig’s comments were unfair, especially coming from someone who knew exactly what the situation was.”
In 2017, Jenneke competed in her second World Championships, advancing to the semifinals and finishing seventh with a time of 13.250. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, she represented Australia, securing fourth place with a time of 13.07.
Covid lockdowns meant Jenneke’s career was put on hold until she recently came out of the blocks with her fastest times ever.
Jenneke now hopes to qualify for the Paris Olympics and reach an elusive hurdles final.
After a hiatus partially enforced by Covid lockdowns, Jenneke made a comeback in 2022, progressing impressively to the semi-finals of the World Championships with her best time in seven years, clocking 12.84 in the series and even faster, 12.66, in the semi-final. finals.
In 2023, she earned a place at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest where she was named one of four captains to lead Australia.
She reached the championships by winning the 100m hurdles event at the 2023 Chemist Warehouse Australian Athletics Championships in Brisbane in a blistering time of 12.77, beating Celeste Mucci and Hannah Jones.
Jenneke qualified for the semi-finals in Budapest alongside her compatriot Celeste Mucci. She finished fifth in this heat, not fast enough to reach the final.
She is now determined to find her place on the Australian Olympic team for Paris 2024.