Jetta-powered speedster wows the sporting world
Sydney Morning Herald
September 25, 2012
Lewis Jetta shows Collingwood's defence a clean set of heels last Friday night.
As the sprint and conditioning coach who worked with NRL flyer Jarryd Hayne at Parramatta, Hayden Knowles knows the sort of speeds that fast footballers can clock.
Knowles is the man who helped organise a 2010 cross-code sprint involving the likes of Wallaby Lachie Turner and Eels superstar Hayne, and works with a host of Olympic hopefuls under his Athletic Allstars banner.
He's desperate to find Australia's next great sprinter, looking to make amends for the fact so much talent is funnelled into the AFL and NRL.
Talent like Sydney livewire Lewis Jetta, who showcased his sprint skills once again in last Friday night's preliminary final with an incredible running goal.
The 23-year-old bolted over 80m in approximately 10.7 seconds while bouncing the ball three times.
Knowles was in awe, but not surprised.
"I wanted him in my cross-code fastest footballer race a couple of years back, but it wasn't possible," he told AAP ahead of Saturday's grand final.
"If someone finds a talent like Lewis and cares for, encourages, nurtures and believes in them the same way the Sydney Swans have - then Australia can one day mix it with the rest of the world in the mens sprints.
"Australia's fastest ever man Patrick Johnson is indigenous, there is another one out there. Bruce McAvaney mentions Usain Bolt in the commentary (of Jetta's goal). Australia has one somewhere."
Like so many school children, Jetta loved his athletics.
"100, 200, 400, 800. High jump, long jump. All the events," he said on Tuesday.
"To be honest I haven't really been timed, I'd like to get the spikes on and be timed."
It makes the fact he is lost to the world of athletics all the more frustrating for Knowles.
"If someone grabbed Lewis at 17 and did what the Swans have done and supported him on the track he would definitely be an Olympian," Knowles said.
"And not just an Olympian, he could have been one of our best ever like a Cathy Freeman."
High praise indeed. But Jetta was determined to forge a career in the AFL and has reaped the rewards.
With the help of partner Jess and a testing pre-season in which he shadowed Kieren Jack, Jetta has transformed himself into a genuine star of the league this year.
Last year, the boy from Bunbury competed in the grand final's halftime entertainment - the 100m sprint.
Now Jetta's blistering pace will be one of the central acts in the MCG spectacle.