The NBA, Pro athletics and women, an interesting mix

Whilst Aussie basketball star Dante Exum has missed the entire NBA season with a knee injury, another Exum has stepped up and taken the spotlight.

Tierra Exum, the 20 year old twin sister of the Utah Jazz star, exploded onto the professional running scene on New Year’s Day, by winning the Open 70 metres at the Maryborough Gift.

Following the lead of her high-flying brother, the former gymnast, turned triple jumper\sprinter, has set her sights high and is using professional athletics as a springboard to further her career.

“My goal is to one day make an Australian Commonwealth Games team and represent Australia in the triple jump”, she said.

Introduced to professional sprinting by her coach, she sees it as an important step in her development as a triple jumper.

“Pro running is great for my speed, it’s helping me with my triple jump and I really enjoy the racing”.

As is the case for most professional runners, success in the Victorian Athletic League has its benefits.

“The prizemoney is great and it not only helps me with all the expenses associated with being an athlete but it helps pay for my mobile phone bill”, she laughed.

Like most ‘pro athletes’, she now takes aim at Easter and the world richest professional sprint race.

“As a pro sprinter it would be great to make a Stawell Gift women’s final, that would be amazing”.

“With the big money on offer though, there will be some fast girls around and it will be tough”.

Offering equal prizemoney of $60,000 for both the men’s and women’s Gift, Stawell remains the jewel in the professional athletics crown.

As an interesting side note, the Ballarat Gift meeting, in addition to the Geelong, Warnambool, Yarra Valley and Stonnington meetings, have all followed the lead of Stawell by offering equal prizemoney for men and women.

Following on from what appears to be a renaissance in females racing ‘pro’, it’s also interesting to note that junior participation in the Victorian athletic league has increased by 15%.

This, coupled with an increase in pro race meetings in 2017, including a new Sandringham Gift, sees one of Australia’s oldest sports on the comeback trail.

In addition to the $160,000 on offer at the Stawell Gift, its rich pickings on the pro circuit in the lead up to Easter, with more than $150,000 in prizemoney up for grabs at race meetings like Ballarat, Stonnington, Keilor, Geelong and Bendigo.

As for Tierra taking the spotlight from her brother, she was quick to point out that we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

“Whilst he won’t be back playing for the Jazz this season, his rehabilitation has been good and Utah have been looking after him. They know he is still young and they can see a good future for him”.

As far as Dante being ready for national duty with the Boomers at the Rio Olympics, Tierra hosed down any speculation.

“At this stage he is taking it day by day and he still has a long way to go. He will probably be back in Australia for our birthday in July but other than that I am not sure what he is doing”.


About David Griffin

Lover of coffee, sport and human endeavour. A writer and life enthusiast with a shameless admiration for dogged persistent people that get 'stuff' done.


  1. Paul Young says

    Thanks Dave, appreciate the pro-running articles.

    At Flagstaff Hill, Adelaide yesterday (Sat 5/3/16) we had 5 heats of an Under 20’s Boys 70m AND 5 heats of an Under 20’s Girls 70m. Plenty of juniors running around in the SA Athletic League.

    Incidentally the John Dawkins Memorial 550m Open was won by his son Josh, 10 years after the death of his father. great run by young Josh & a wonderful result.

    Terrific atmosphere at the Flagstaff Gift carnival yesterday where they provide the best yiros you can get at any aths meet in Australia.

  2. Thanks Paul,
    Great to see kids coming through.
    Wow, how fantastic with Josh winning his fathers tribute race. Moments like these you never forget!
    Haha……I love a Yiros!!
    On a side note I have a story coming on Les Williams. He started running pro in 1972. Stay tuned!
    Thanks again great to hear from you.

  3. Paul Young says

    Great to hear David. Les Williams and I trained together back in the 1980’s. He has some of the best stories going around. He use to be best mates with the now deceased Alphonse Gangitano and was best man at his wedding. Before his “Robert DeNiro” days with the Carlton crew, Gangitano was a down to earth bloke and Les would often help him out such as lend him his car. I reckon it was after the Barry Michael v Lester Ellis Junior Lightweight title fight in mid 1985 when there was a massive blue at Festival Hall involving Gangitano that Les realised he had to sever ties with the “Robert DeNiro” of Lygon Street. Les recently won his 64th sash at Keilor in the Masters 300m. Funny bastard old L R Williams.

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