Heights no bar to vaulting ambition
Concord High School Year 12 student and champion sportswoman, Marlee Barber, isn't afraid of heights or of hard work - her favourite quote is 'Pain is temporary, glory lasts forever'.
Her sporting trajectory goes something like this: A promising young gymnast morphs into a champion podium diver who morphs into a stunt diver who morphs into a champion pole-vaulter.
All the while she dangles a string of awards behind her including a state Combined High Schools sporting Blue and a Pierre de Coubertin Olympic Committee Award.
Her most recent achievements include selection as a member of the Australian team to attend the 2011 International Pierre de Coubertin Youth Forum in Beijing in August, and winning the NSW open women's pole-vault competition, which qualifies her for the Australian Open Championships.
Marlee, a former Albury High School student, moved to Sydney with her mother Maree in 2009 to pursue her sporting ambitions.
Her father Trevor runs the family farm in the small town of Walla Walla and commutes to Sydney four days a month. Marlee's brothers Peter, an accountant in Albury, and Andrew, an architecture student in Canberra, fully support the decision.
Concord High principal Jacqueline Koob describes Marlee as an inspiring young person.
"She is a very strong academic performer. She is a school captain ... and a leading figure in school events," she said.
"In addition, Marlee has played a leading role in organising and running competitions in her sport of diving right up to national level."
Ms Koob said Marlee recently received another sporting Blue - one of only 28 awarded across 60 schools through the Sydney North School Sports Association.
"These prestigious awards are given to a very elite group of sportspersons who have achieved at the very highest levels in school sport."
That night Marlee also received an Integral Energy award "for the very best of the best", she said.
According to Ms Koob, organisers stressed the students had been nominated and chosen not only on the basis of their extraordinary sporting talent, but also "based on the character they have consistently displayed in sportsmanship, integrity and participation as well as their contribution to their school and community".
"Marlee most certainly fits this description as she is a true all-rounder and generous contributor."
One way this was demonstrated was through her participation as a volunteer coach in a Diving NSW program for the hearing impaired due to start in Term 2.
She said Marlee, who had decided to concentrate on pole-vaulting, hoped to pursue a career in sport and sport management in the future.
Photo: Marlee Barber. (Photo supplied by Maree Barber.)