Scholarships to honour and assist women

Illawarra women may still apply for a $2000 International Women's Day scholarship, as the application deadline has been extended to February 7.

There are four scholarships for women in athletics, arts, education, business and community service, and for indigenous women.

Last year's recipient of the Kerryn McCann IWD Scholarship for women in athletics, Jessica Hull, said it was an honour to be associated with an award in Ms McCann's name.

"Obviously, the funding is very helpful, but to be named a recipient is such a high honour."

The 17-year-old planned to use the funding to attend the World Youth Championships in the Ukraine, but a toe fracture put her out of contention.

"It was horrible, I was really devastated with that," she said.

"Then I had to look at the bigger picture ... and if I take the time off now and get it right, I can still hopefully have a long career, but if I rushed back then, I could have had more problems later, so I used it as motivation to get back and run faster again."

After recovering from the injury, Jessica won two races at a national school athletics carnival in Townsville last month. She used part of the scholarship money to fund her trip, and spent the rest on uniforms and getting to other races.

Now, the year 12 Albion Park High student is working towards qualifying for this year's World Junior Championships and has her sights set on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 and then, one day, the Olympics.

Jessica said she respected her coach and his decisions, especially as he was her dad.

"People think it would be [hard], but I know he knows what he's talking about," she said.

"We work really well together because he's trained me since I was young.

"He knows exactly what I can handle and how to change sessions up if it's not working.

"Dad was a runner too when he was my age, although he still runs with me now in certain sections, and tries to sprint finish me."

When Jessica received the scholarship, she went to a luncheon where former professional surfer Layne Beachley spoke to the recipients.

"To listen to her story, it was incredible," she said.

"To see how much she went through and she put it all aside.

"Mind of a champion."

Application forms can be downloaded from iwdillawarra.com.au. Email them to info@iwdillawarra.com.au.

Winners will be announced at the 2014 International Women's Day lunch on March 7.

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