Emmaus Catholic College student Layla Sharp and St John XXIII Catholic College student Sebastian Sultana are once again the toast of Western Sydney after some sensational performances over the summer reinforced their reputation as potential future Paralympic and Olympic athletes.
Running in the T38 category for athletes with mild cerebral palsy, Layla, who is in Year 10, became New South Wales Junior 400m and 800m champion and then turned out to claim both titles again at the NSW Open championships.
Layla’s stunning time of 2:35.70 in the 800m final at the NSW Juniors is soon expected to be confirmed as a new Australian record (T38).
Sebastian won the NSW Junior 200m title and then backed up a few weeks later to claim a stunning silver medal in the 100m Open final at the NSW Athletics Championships.
The silver medal is an impressive result for the current U18 Australian 100m record holder considering Sebastian was one of only a few students competing at the Open championships and was the only student to make the 100m final.
Having claimed double gold in both state competitions, Layla now has her sights set on national gold when she competes at next month's Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Queensland.
"I’m ecstatic about my recent results," said Layla. "My training really has been paying off. I’ve been able to implement it in my races and get some great times. I’m looking forward to Nationals in Queensland and seeing what I can do on the track."
"I am extremely proud of Layla," said mother Sam Salkic of her recent success. "I am amazed at what Layla has done in athletics. She has so much belief in herself and such passion for her running."
Layla’s times in the 400m event are equally impressive. Her personal best of 1:06.66, which she ran at the NSW State Championships, is just half a second off the “B” qualifying time for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.
While the Paris Games might come too soon for Layla to qualify, she is hopeful of representing Australia at the 2028 Paralympics in Los Angeles.