Reigning champion Hayley Orman on achieving the impossible

Date: 17th February 2022

Hayley Orman’s win in the 2021 Change our Game Women’s Gift at Stawell was something she thought she could never achieve.

“To me, winning the Stawell Gift is just something so incredibly special. I honestly believed I was never good enough to achieve something this prestigious. I look up to previous Stawell Gift or major gift winners as incredible athletes and for me it instils some inner belief that yes, I am just as good.”

Starting with Little Athletics aged six, Hayley reached that point between school and university when her running career was “either going to stay or go.”

“I was lucky enough that my Dad introduced me to Aaron Harrison who was coaching an all-male stable of pro runners. I remember my dad taking me out to the Camden Classic and we watched as we both tried to understand pro running. I decided to give it a shot.”

Hayley’s goal was always to make the final of the renowned Bay Sheffield in her hometown of Adelaide, then she could retire. She did just that in 2019 but she wanted more. “It was at that moment I thought just maybe I could win a major.”

At this time, Hayley’s friend and training partner Dan Semmler saw an opportunity to start an all-female squad and with a few girls looking for a fresh change Atalanta Athletics Adelaide (AAA) was born.

“With the push from my coach Charles Sheffield at the time, I changed squads. It has been with this group that I have found a new level of form. Although the training and work seriously intensified, I was running and training better than I ever had.

Due to injury Hayley missed out on running at the 2020 “Bay” but the following year was looking at competing in Stawell.  “I had always put Stawell on another level, only the best of the best can make a Stawell final, let alone win it! I never thought I was good enough to mix it at the Stawell level. In 2021 my body had recovered, I found my form again and then proceeded to achieve what is, in my eyes, the unachievable.” 

Hayley will be back to defend her title in 2022 and to enjoy the event with friends and family in tow.

“It’s so special because of the history but it’s just such an incredible weekend. From the venue to the atmosphere there is something so exhilarating and unique that just makes you feel on top of the world when you are out on that gloriously fast track. To be able to spend the weekend with your training crew and family and the camaraderie and fun times you have as a team, they are lifelong memories you are creating.”

Hayley admits she is at the “back end” of her career but her training is going well as she finds a balance between life and running.  “I am endeavouring to make the most of being a fit, un-injured athlete and I hope the body will hold on for a few more years. I still deep down inside think I have some more good running left in me, I hope it’s not my last sash or major final. My goal honestly is just to enjoy the day and run to the best of my ability.”

“The exciting part about Stawell is you never know what can happen on the day! The person who can stay cool and relaxed in the pressure cooker that is the Stawell Gift, can be the one to pull through. I know we have lots of SA athletes looking to contest the Stawell Gift so it would be great to see some of our own making the big final again.”

As well as coach Dan, “who brought me from an average sprinter to an athlete where I found form I never knew I had,” Hayley’s attributes her success to a big group of people including her running partners, her other half Tim, family and her medical team.

“My teammates are also my nearest and dearest. I love spending all of the hours with them week in and week out. They support me in the highs and lows, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today with them. 

“My partner Tim tolerates me always being at training and having to talk about running, panicking about injuries and having the Stawell Shrine in our new house. He is extremely patient and I am so lucky to have him.” 

Off the track Hayley is still in the cheese business and recently built and moved into a new home with partner Tim and new puppy Winston. “He’s a bordoodle, he is great but takes up a lot of our energy at the moment but is the best!”

 

 

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