Fraser Symons still remembers the shock of winning his first race at national level. “At the time I didn’t see myself as able to win,” he says. “After I came first by a pretty convincing margin, I gained a new sense of appreciation for the hard work that I’d have to put in to continue to win at that level.”
A Year 12 student and Vice-Captain of Perry House, Fraser is currently the top ranked U20 400m hurdler in Australia and ranked sixth in the open 400m hurdles.* This season his goals include qualifying for the IAAF World U20 Championships, to be held in Nairobi next year.
Reaching this target requires a daunting training schedule, with at least four track sessions per week along with time in the gym, physio appointments and working with a sports psychologist. “It’s rigorous, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to compete at a high level,” Fraser says. “The end goal is to have the best personal result I can.”
Even as he goes up against increasingly challenging competition, Fraser’s strategy is never to think about the people next to him as he takes his place on the starting block.
“I know I’ve put the work in that will enable me to win,” he says of his pre-race mindset. “If I’m doing the best I can, I don’t go into a race to come second.”
Despite this strong emphasis on athletic achievement, Fraser is still highly focused on academic success and hopes to enrol at a US college to study either business or law. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be brought up in a family that values education,” he says. “That’s my number one priority, despite my history with athletics and the success I’ve had in it.”
A boarder at Melbourne Grammar since mid-2016, Fraser says attending and support from the School has also contributed to his achievements. “I enjoy boarding very much,” he says. “The access to tutors and to my coach, Dan Martin, really helps with my schoolwork as well as with my training. I wouldn’t be where I am without my coach.”
Mr Martin, a former Australian representative in the 110m hurdles, believes commitment is another major factor in Fraser’s success. “There is no doubt that Fraser has natural talent,” Mr Martin says. “But it’s his determination and work ethic that sets himself apart from his competitors.”
*Correct at time of publication.