Casey wins gold and glory

Leading from the front: Casey Buchanan leads the pack around the straight during his U20 gold medal 800m victory at the Oceania Athletics Championships.
Leading from the front: Casey Buchanan leads the pack around the straight during his U20 gold medal 800m victory at the Oceania Athletics Championships.

For 18 year-old Casey Buchanan, it was history in the making when he donned an Australian jersey and represented his country at the 2019 Oceania Athletics Championships in Townsville, in the last week of June.

Casey walked away with two gold medals on his debut for Australia, taking out the U20 800m and U20 4x400m relay.

Believed to be the first ever athlete from Mount Compass to represent Australia, Casey was selected in the national squad after running a personal best time of 1:50.54 in the 800m at Nationals earlier this year.

A former Investigator College student, Casey started athletics at the age of five, competing at South Coast Little Athletics in Victor Harbor, before getting involved in cross country and state championship competitions and winning a scholarship to Westminster College in 2016.

The Compass community has been great to me and was very supportive along with all of my family.

Casey Buchanan

For the last year, Casey has been coached in Adelaide by Simon Moran, who has pushed him to achieve at a high standard.

"He's been a big mentor for me and really taught me a lot," said Casey.

"It wasn't until I started training with Simon that I really got into the 800m distance specifically."

Discussing his national selection, Casey described it as a bit of a shock. "I was really surprised and it was a pretty surreal experience," he said.

"I'd come off a great block of training and competition, but I was definitely nervous leading into the event.

"I was able to go in confident though, thanks to Simon and the fact that I'd had such a good season leading up to it."

As an 18 year-old, Casey was competing against a whole field of competitors a year older than him, but utilised a tactical approach from the outset of his 800m victory.

"It certainly wasn't a quick race, it was very tactical," he said. "I ran about a 1:54.

"I went out fast to get to the front, before slowly reducing my pace to slow down the field.

"Because I was running against primarily 800m conditioned runners who were a bit fitter than me, the slower I could make it, the greater chance I had of winning.

"We ran the first lap in 60 seconds and I closed the second at 53 seconds, which really isn't the ideal way to run an 800m, but I felt in control at every point of the race."

Gold medal: Casey with coach Simon Moran following his gold medal win.

Gold medal: Casey with coach Simon Moran following his gold medal win.

His performance in the 800m got Casey selected in the final spot for the 4x400m relay, which was run later that night, giving Casey only an hour and a half recovery time.

The four U20 Australian boys had never run together before, but took out a strong win.

In the hours following, before Casey had time to let his wins sink in, he suffered an appendicitis attack.

Having suffered a similar attack a month prior, Casey opted not to have his appendix removed against doctor's advice, to ensure he was able to complete his training block for the Oceania Champs.

It proved to be an important decision, ultimately resulting in two gold medals.

"It flared up at some points during training and I just had to push through the pain, but I got very lucky in the end that it didn't affect my race."

Casey is now seeking sponsorship opportunities to take his career in running to the next level.

He said he has received a huge amount of support from the Mount Compass community as well as his family.

"The Compass community has been great to me and was very supportive along with all my family."