Academy Games bids fond farewell to Illawarra

ACADEMY GAMES 

After three successful years the Illawarra said goodbye to the Academy Games in style at the weekend.

Wild weather initially put competition at risk, but skies cleared to allow for all seven sports to take place between Wollongong and the Shoalhaven.

The Illawarra Academy of Sport did its host duties proud with strong displays in all competitive matches.

Illawarra's Gus Franks (triathlon) and Cameron Scott (cycling criterium) finished second in their divisions, while Mitchell Wright was named leading cyclist in the under-15 men's division.

Both hockey and netball teams had mixed fortunes in the three-day carnival, scoring some big wins against their regional rivals.

The golf and bowls teams were forced to brave the weather, with the Illawarra Academy's Blue bowls team eventually claiming the honours in Bomaderry.

The weather did cause some changes in the competition schedule, with Sunday's triathlon converted to a duathlon because of high seas at Port Kembla.

Meanwhile, cycling at the Bowral Velodrome was cancelled due to a wet track.

But overall, general manager Shannon Fraser said the 2014 Games was a huge success.

"Despite some concerns about the weather yesterday, all sports have gone ahead and the athletes have experienced some great competition," Fraser said.

"It's the third and final time Illawarra has hosted the ClubsNSW Academy Games, and it's been wonderful to see so many talented young athletes showcasing their skills in our region."

The Games began on Friday evening and were attended by London Olympian Dave Smith.

"Having Dave Smith at the opening ceremony was just phenomenal," Fraser said.

"He spoke of the importance of his time at the Academy. These young athletes are in the early stages of their careers but it shows people who come through our system can reach those levels of achievement."

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