Up until now, Brookings Harbor graduate Kia Collins had never been out of state much less flown on a plane.
That all changed this past July however, when she traveled to Australia to compete at 2017 Down Under Sports track and field championships at Griffith University. Despite being a former standout on the Bruins high school track and field team, this was Collin’s first time competing on the international stage.
“All around, it was a really nice experience. I had never flown before,” Collins said. “I had never really been on a big plane or plane at all, been out of the country, been out of state as matter of fact — the experience itself was super nice just to get traveling and meeting all the people there.”
Collins competed in the women’s 18 to 19-year-old javelin, discus throw and shot put over the course of her one week escape to the Land Down Under.
Collins brought back a bronze medal to the United States in the javelin throw with a new personal best of 34.23 meters, which converts to 112 feet in the U.S. and eclipsed her previous record by two feet. In the discus throw Collins placed fifth after throwing for 28.39 meters, and seventh in the shot put at 9.57 meters.
“I didn’t do as well as I thought I would for discus,” Collins said. “It was great competition and everything and I was excited to meet all of them, but I didn’t place too far out, but it’s all good.
“Shot I did better than I thought I did; I didn’t think I was going to do too great on that because I had been doing shot through an injured shoulder but I ended up doing really good. That all turned out okay.”
In addition to competing, Collins also devoted some of her time at the Griffith University track and field to coaching some of her fellow competitors after completing her events.
“There was a couple people there who had never thrown before, so I was helping them out,” Collins said. “I had to teach them how to throw javelin so I was trying to help them out and stuff like that.”
Additionally, Collins also had the opportunity to visit a couple of wildlife sanctuaries in the area that served as refuges for kangaroos and koalas.
To fund her trip, Collins fundraised approximately a $1,000 from the community and paid for the remaining $4,000 herself alongside her parents.
“A lot of it actually was me working or my mom working or my stepdad he helps a humongous amount,” she said. “Most of his tax return went to my trip, most of my tax return went to my trip. I was working full-time, my mom and dad were both working full time to help me go; that’s where the majority of it went.”
Collins, who will attend Southwestern Oregon Community College this fall for a welding certificate, notes that she has been invited to return to the tournament next year.
“I would definitely go back by a longshot, I got invited to come back,” she said.