Let's hope the sun shines brightly, there's no rain, and a slight breeze, for this Saturday, January 16, and the Illawarra Track Challenge. The day has always been a highlight of the season for host club Illawarra Blue Stars and Athletics NSW. For the athletes who are taking part in the 60 metres and one mile, the state title is there for the taking, but the supporting events that are always conducted are a very important part of this non-stop carnival.
Many athletes have recorded personal best times or have recorded qualifying times/distances for national in and international events at this meet. With a restriction on the number of events being conducted in our state at the moment, athletes should be eager to get out on the track and compete. Train all you like, but competition is the main ingredient to a top performance, when needed. The supporting events are so important to our athletes of our state, and with a variety on offer, the track challenge if virtually open to all athletes, all ages, both male and female.
Only recently announced, the Masters Australian titles to be held in Canberra later in April, have now been cancelled, but masters athletes can take in the track challenge and have some vital competition prior to both country titles and their state titles. The 60 metres will allow masters athletes to compete for the Blue Stars medal for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in 10-year age brackets. If they are not track people, there are hammer, javelin and long jump contests in the field, and the supporting track events of 100, 400 and 3km, a great variety for a number of athletes.
The state title 60 metres for both men and women are expected to bring out some top performances and although this event is not contested at many meets, it is one of the most popular on the European circuit and world indoors, and NSW has some class athletes over this distance.
The mile is now becoming a very popular event and many are now reliving the past years when the mile was the glamour event on an athletics program. Many have been contesting mile races throughout the season, so the Illawarra Track challenge should see a number of these athletes trying to add the state title to their CV.
Little A's athletes who have dual registration are also being catered for with the state title for the 60 metres and one mile also there for the taking in age brackets under 14, under 16, under 18 and under 20. But they too can contest the supporting events, with all events to be graded on ability and not age, the ideal preparation for their own qualifying meets and state titles.
Athletes do not have any reason to say there aren't any events to contest. We saw the Newcastle Challenge held last week and now the Illawarra Track Challenge will give more much-needed competition to many athletes. Now is your chance to enter before entries close on January 14, and be part of the action at the Kerryn McCann Athletics Centre. A live stream of this event will also be conducted.
Country athletes have it over the city athletes with country titles to be held in Mingara on the 29th, 30th and 31st of January, an event that is held purely for athletes registered with a country club. This event has always been a stepping stone for many athletes into following state titles, and is another event that is also important for competition.
Many local athletes will start seeing repairs being done on the grandstand at the Kerryn McCann Athletics Centre. To start around February 1, athletes, officials and clubs will be disadvantaged for a period of time, but the end project will be worth it all, as many much-needed repairs are being done on the grandstand to ensure it is better in bad weather and will be much better in appearance also.
Please don't complain if you are put out a little, as we are very lucky that council are moving forward to ensure we have a much better presented and safer grandstand.