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ANTONY STEWART | May 27th, 2011
Townsville BulletinOLYMPIC hopeful Josh Hall may soon be readying for the biggest leap of his career - and there's not a high jump mat in sight.
Just four games into an AFL experiment, the 21-year-old last night attracted the attention of a Gold Coast Suns Academy scout, who turned out to watch Hall in action while training with the Curra Swans.
An international standard high jumper, 197cm Hall has created a buzz that has stretched right down the east coast of Australia.
With Hall's blistering speed, strong ball skills and - of course - incredible leap, Townsville's AFL Queensland development manager Peter Young immediately used his Gold Coast contacts to convince the Suns he was a "must-see".
"I just think the way he moves, the marks he was taking on the weekend - he's got something to offer," Young said.
"He's just an athlete, there's something there."
The hope is for Hall to head down to the Gold Coast for a run with the Suns' reserves team next month.
For ruckman Hall, he's taking it all in his stride, excited by the whirlwind prospect unfurling in front of him.
"If the opportunity presents itself, I'll definitely grasp it and see where I can go with it," he said.
But while an AFL career definitely interests him, the former Queensland age touch football and soccer representative said his focus remained firmly fixed on the London 2012 Olympic Games. Earlier this year he jumped a personal best 2.26m, just 2cm shy of a "B" qualifier, and the eighth-best jump in national history.
"The dream of going to the Olympics is still very close to my heart, so I'd still rather go there first and then see what happens. High jump at the moment comes first with my coach and my family," Hall said.
"They have done a lot for me to get me this far in high jump and I don't really want to throw that away just yet."
Young said he believed those priorities would not work against Hall if an AFL club showed genuine interest.
"Making the Olympics is his goal and I think if he does that, then it opens up the door even more for an AFL club anywhere to want to speak to him because it would lift his profile more," he said. "We just want him to be happy whatever he does. It's just an opportunity there ... where it takes him is up to Josh."
Hall has twice played in the AFL Townsville Premiership this season and was last week's best on ground, as his natural flair and rugby league background stunned opposition and wowed on-lookers.