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Joshua Azzopardi

Age

24

Place of Birth

Penrith, NSW

Hometown

Camden, NSW

Junior Club

Camden Little Athletics Club

Senior Club

Camden Athletics Club

Coach

Robert Marks

Olympic History

Paris 2024

High School

St Gregory College

 

Joshua's Story

After a serious toe injury in late 2021, sprinter Josh Azzopardi nearly abandoned his 2022 season, but fortunately he persevered, going on to run PBs and be selected for his Australian senior debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Since then, there have been strong performances and progression, including a semi-final at the World University Games, an Oceania title, a 100m PB of 10.15 and regular appearances on the national 4x100m relay team, which has qualified for the Paris Olympics.

Josh joined Camden Little Athletics Centre in the under-6s as a bit of fun with some school mates. Around the same age, he started playing AFL, switching to rugby league and Oztag in 2014 when he was 15. He would continue to play league over winter, Oztag on Monday nights and compete in Little Athletics in summer.

“My mind was always on league though, I played winger and I always had a dream of playing in the NRL,” he said. No surprise that he was attending a rugby league school, St Gregory’s College in Campbelltown.

“My mindset switched over the 2016-17 summer when I ran my first sub 11 (10.78) at the Little Athletics Zone. Rob (his coach) was stoked for me as training was very inconsistent.”

Then he won the Little Athletics state title in the 100m, with a time of 10.81.

His coach then spoke to Josh about focusing on the world juniors the next year. “I didn't really know what world juniors was until I did some research into it and saw that it was in Finland and it was an event for the best under-20 athletes in the world,” he said.

Over the summer of 2017-18 he would run under the world junior standard (10.50) with a 2.1m/s illegal wind, and despite hamstring issues would manage third at nationals and a place on the relay team for the world juniors. In the lead-up in Europe he ran 10.41 in the 100m and was added to the individual 100m.

“Juniors was amazing, but I was dirty as I missed the 100m semi by 0.01 seconds and in the relay we didn't get the baton around so that was tough,” he said.

Josh persevered in the transition years, particularly showing some glimpses in 2021, ahead of his brilliant 2022 campaign.

“Making that step into senior teams was a long time coming from 2018 to 2021, but perseverance and determination is what has got me where I am today.

But it was not smooth sailing, and he nearly abandoned his 2022 season.

“As we came out of lockdown in late 2021, I had an accident doing a stair session where I tripped and kicked my big toe and bent the joint back on itself, causing a significant injury that put me in a moon boot for eight weeks and on the bike and in the pool for 13 weeks before I was able to run again.

“I made my comeback to racing after long discussions with my coach and physios about whether the 2021-2022 season was even worth trying.”

After a tough start, running just 11.05, a week later he progressed slowly with 10.57 and felt positive about the direction he was going.

“Over the next weeks and months, there were PBs, scalps, and Australian medals,” he said. “Coming second in the 100m final at nationals was a highlight of the season alongside being called into the Oceania team for the individual 100m, where I then ran another PB of 10.27."

He was named in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games team.

“I wouldn't have even thought in my wildest dreams that coming off an injury that threw me around a fair bit would lead me to where I am today."

At the Commonwealth Games he was the lead-off runner, but unfortunately the team didn’t get the baton to the finish, breaking down at the last change.

Josh recovered from a late-summer injury in 2023 to make the 100m semi-finals at the 2023 World University Games in China.  He started the 2024 summer in terrific form, defeating Australia’s premier sprinter Rohan Browning.

Two weeks later Josh smashed his 100m PB, going from 10.25 to 10.15 in Canberra in January. He had become the equal ninth-fastest in Australian history. At season’s end he was second at the nationals in the 100m and in June had a strong 100m win at the Oceania Championships over national champion Sebastian Sultana and Olympian Browning.

During the summer he was a regular on the national relay team, running either the first or last legs. The team clocked a series of mid-38 second times and ran brilliantly at the World Relays in May, where they secured a Paris Olympic berth.

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