A BACK injury left Evan Smith with a little over a month of practice for the under 18s javelin at the NSW State Athletics Championships, but was that going to stop him from finding a medal?
Smith, 17, returned home from Saturday's championships with a bronze medal courtesy of a 52.25 metre throw, and thanks to his crucial top three finish he earned a place at the upcoming Australian Track and Field Championships.
It's a wonderful achievement for the Orange Christian School student who had to spend seven months away from the sport as part of his injury recovery.
"It's a relief because I've been working towards this for a long time," Smith said.
"I got a stress reaction on my lower back and that put me out for around seven to eight months. There was lot of physio and chiropractor work, but with simple stretches I worked my way back into it.
"That top three finish was what I was looking for.
"I managed to get three of my throws over the 50 mark, which is what I wanted. I got one good throw out there so I was happy with that."
The signs of a strong performance at the NSW State Athletics Championships for Smith were evident in his build up to the event.
Smith made his comeback on January 18 where he threw 52.68m at the NSW Country Championships in Dubbo to win the gold.
Earlier this month he threw his furthest distance since his comeback - 53.51m - to top the standings at the NSW Little Athletics Regional Championships, and once again did the same in shot put.
Smith's consistent run of throws continued with Saturday's third place effort.
Smith will have the NSW Little Athletics State Championships (March 14) as another chance to prepare for his nationals javelin bid.
And he's dropped all other events to put his focus on javelin.
Even as he continues the comeback trail from injury Smith is still keeping his aims relatively high for his Australian Track and Field Championships bid on March 21.
Smith is hoping for an appearance in the final, which requires a top eight finish in the preliminaries, while the next aim would be a top five result.
Smith recently broke his own Bathurst Little Athletics javelin record for the fifth time.
He's eyeing off another record at this August's CSSA State Carnival.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE NEWS AND SPORT?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below ...