Portales senior runs track ‘Down Under’

By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer

When 17-year-old Tyler Anderson learned he was one of four New Mexico athletes to secure a trip to Australia as part of the Down Under Sports Program, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

Anderson is going into his senior year at Portales High School and took advantage of the two-week program offered by International Sports Specialists Incorporated.

“It opened me up to a different culture,” Anderson said. “It was cool getting to meet different people and the coach that was training us down there, I learned a lot from him.”

Anderson received a letter at the beginning of the 2006 school year inviting him to the program. He attended a meeting and then began the process of raising the $2,000 needed to make the trip.

“I had sponsors mostly, local businesses,” Anderson said.

Anderson then took the 15-hour flight from San Francisco to Sydney and he says he is still trying to recover from the long flights.

“I still have jet lag,” Anderson said. “I have a problem, I can’t sleep on planes so I probably slept about two hours.”

The program was located at Australia’s Gold Coast, about an hour south of Brisbane in the Australian state of Queensland.

“It was just awesome,” Anderson said. “Most of the time I was just visiting with other people for track and then at night they would let us go out and we would just walk around the town and visit with other people from Australia and share cultures.”

“It’s a great opportunity to stretch your horizon and to go outside of the box that you are used to and experience the world,” Tyler’s mom Beth Anderson-Anthony said.

“The weather was perfect, it was like 70 degrees,” Anderson said. “I wasn’t used to the weather with the way I packed. I just brought a bunch of shorts and then at night it would get to about 60 degrees.”

During the day, Tyler spent much of his time running the 100 meter dash, 110 meter hurdles as well as the triple jump and putting together a 4×100 relay team.”

“Probably like three hours out of the whole day we were just doing track, except for the two days that we had track meets,” Anderson said. “I feel like I did really good. I’m proud of myself.”

Tyler was also happy to see a fixture in American culture, even though it was called a different name.

“Our tour guide would say, ‘There’s a Macas,’ and that was McDonalds,” Anderson said. “So that was a little different.”

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to go and travel someplace outside of New Mexico,” Beth Anderson-Anthony said. “To be able to experience different cultures and ways of life and to do something he enjoys in the process.”