Kelsey-Lee Barber's world championship win sparks Canberra celebration

A roar of excitement finally broke the nervous silence as cheers echoed through a sleepy Canberra suburb on Wednesday morning.

Keith and Bev Roberts sat quietly in their lounge room waiting and hoping to see daughter Kelsey-Lee Barber reach her world championship goal in Doha.

Canberra's Kelsey-Lee Barber celebrates her gold medal triumph at the world championships in Doha. Picture: Getty Images

Canberra's Kelsey-Lee Barber celebrates her gold medal triumph at the world championships in Doha. Picture: Getty Images

Their Melba home erupted when Barber became Australia's newest world champion, throwing 66.56 metres in the javelin final.

It continues a remarkable 18 months for Canberra thrower Barber, who won Commonwealth Games silver last year and has continually smashed her personal best distance this year.

"It's surreal sitting there and watching. Bev usually has to leave the room, she gets very nervous and hyperventilates," Keith Roberts said.

"She got to her sixth throw and I thought it was going to be big. When it was, we screamed. We might have woken up the neighbours."

Barber claimed gold in dramatic style, moving from fourth to first with a huge final round throw to beat Chinese duo Liu Shiying (65.75m) and Lyu Huihui (65.49m).

It puts her in a perfect position to be the Olympic Games champion in Tokyo next year, going into the world championships as the No. 2 ranked thrower after a brilliant season.

But she looked out of sorts in the qualifying round in Doha on Monday, only scraping through to the 12-woman final in 10th place.

Barber settled her nerves on Wednesday with a solid opening throw of 62.95m, but with one round to go in the final she had only improved to 63.65m and a podium finished looked unlikely.

"I didn't know how far it was as I was still waiting to watch it fly over that line but it certainly felt like a really clean throw," she said. "With easy, clean throwing you normally know they are quite good throws.

"I thought it had snuck over 65 so I was just waiting to see the numbers come up.

"Then to see 66 and jump into first place my head was spinning a bit. But I was like 'wait, I can't celebrate too early because I have still got three girls to go'."

Barber will return to Canberra next week as just the ninth Australian to win a gold medal at a world championship level.

Keith and Bev moved their family from East London in South Africa to Canberra in 2000 to give their children a better life.

"The medal ceremony is [on Thursday morning], but we'll wait until she gets home to have a party," Keith Roberts said.

"From a parents point of view, it's admiration at how disciplined she is. She has set those goals for herself and worked damn hard to get there."

Barber won her first international medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, but crashed out of the Rio Olympics in the qualifying stage.

She is coached by husband Mike and was the first to acknowledge that the closeness of their bond was integral to her sporting success.

"I wouldn't be able to do this without him," she said. "And especially tonight my performance couldn't have been achieved without him on the fence.

"There were technical cues as much as anything, but just to have the support to say 'you're good' or 'cool, calm down a little bit'.

"The emotional connection is what makes it so special and so enjoyable."

Mike Barber paid tribute to the advice he received from Grant Ward - the coach of 2013 world championships runner-up Kim Mickle.

The next focus for the team of Barber and Barber is the Tokyo Olympics, where Kelsey-Lee will likely be the gold-medal favourite.

She will also have to get used to having a much bigger profile, as befitting a world champion and as Australian track and field adjusts to life in the post- Sally Pearson era.

"Kels is pretty down to earth, we are both pretty down to earth people in our private life," Mike Barber said. "She came into this competition with a bit of pressure riding on her and she handled it well. Tokyo is no different."

- with AAP

This story Barber's world title sparks celebration in Canberra first appeared on The Canberra Times.