Cleveland now in elite company

Lucy Cleveland, Linden Hall and Catriona Bisset. (Western Athletics)

Oliver Lees

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to share your passion with your heroes, but up-and-coming athletics prospect Lucy Cleveland had that opportunity earlier this month.

The 15-year-old from Point Cook was invited to race alongside Australian Olympic athletes Catriona Bisset and Linden Hall at a Victorian Milers Club event held at Doncaster on March 14.

Both Hall and Bisset hold Australian records in the 1500 metre and 800 metre running categories respectively.

“It was pretty incredible because I was actually on the start line with Linden, it was amazing to be near such amazing athletes,” Cleveland said.

“And to race against them in the end was so cool, most kids wouldn’t get the chance.”

Cleveland’s invitation to participate in the exhibition race was earned off the back of impressive recent performances in competition.

Competing in the under-17 category at the Victorian Track and Field Championships at Albert Park, she won gold in the 800 metre, 1500 metre and 3000 metre events.

In the 3000 metres she ran a personal best time of nine minutes and 50 seconds.

In February, Cleveland took out silver in the Victorian Open Women’s Mile Championship finish behind World Championship representative Melissa Duncan.

The past six years Western Athletics running coach Stu Macaulay has had a box seat watching Cleveland’s development.

Macaulay said he’d been extremely impressed by her hard work on and off the track, which went to another level during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

“It was my advice that she take on some longer style running because I thought that was where she was better suited,” he said,

“She’s very easy to coach, always wants to learn. She not only wants to know how she can do something better, but also why she’s doing it, which is an excellent thing.”

Throughout the extended periods of Melbourne’s lockdown measures, Cleveland and her mum Cath would regularly run together to break up the monotony and keep on top of their training.

Cath is a handy runner in her own right, having won Victorian Masters medals, but admits the gap in speed between herself and her daughter is getting wider.

“She’s way too fast for me now, I can’t keep up with her,” Cath said.

She said despite all the recent success her daughter has made for herself as an athlete, what she’s most proud of is the kind and professional manner in which she carries herself.

“Lucy is really well known for acknowledging to all of her competitors, giving everyone a high five or a handshake,” she said.

“She recently won a cross country event and waited for every person to cross the line to acknowledge them.”

In the short term, Lucy is focused on the upcoming national championships in Adelaide.

But she admits she also has greater ambitions down the road, firstly to push for selections in world under-20s in 2026, and then set her sights on the biggest accomplishment in athletics.

“I would really like to go to the Olympics one day, I have the goal of going to 2032 Olympics in Brisbane,” she said.