OF all the regional sports with fine junior nurseries, athletics must rate up with the best.
Year after the year, the Ipswich and District Athletics Club continues to produce outstanding young competitors.
While it’s been some years since we had a representative at Olympic, world championship or Commonwealth Games level, it’s heartening to see what is being developed at Bill Paterson Oval.
Promising athletes such as Larissa Chambers and Cassie Purdon are on target for international events in the near future.
Chambers has already represented the club and Australia at the Oceania Games and Arafura Games.
She has the sprint pedigree to go all the way in coming years.
High jumper Purdon recently obtained a qualifying standard for the World Junior Games, hopefully giving her that opportunity when the national team is selected later in the year.
The Ipswich region has a reputation for producing top-level people.
Deborah Acason (nee Lovely) was one of our best in the throwing disciplines before she concentrated on becoming an Olympic weightlifter and new mum.
Long distance runner Glen Yarham has also represented the city overseas, in recent years.
Before the duo were a long list of national level achievers who excelled at club and school level.
With the Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Perth next week, it’s fitting that the Ipswich club has another dedicated group preparing to head west.
While it’s hard to predict their medal hopes, it is expected many will make finals and hopefully achieve more personal bests.
That augurs well for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, which must inspire the current teenagers to keep working hard.
Having covered the Sydney 2000 Olympics and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, I can vouch for what it means to be part of such elite competitions, on home soil.
Those athletes within range of national selection need to remain focused knowing what is potentially on offer in less than five years.
That is, unless they qualify for Junior World titles in the meantime.
While the spotlight is rightly on our up-and-coming athletes, it’s important to remember other outstanding Ipswich club people such as Vic Pascoe, Bailey Pashley, Brad Robinson, Trish Kinnane and Des Johnston. These coaches and administrators give their heart and soul to the sport, especially to the kids.
And it’s similarly essential to praise the work on those at the Ipswich Little Athletics Centre, who no doubt have another generation of young stars in the making.
Ipswich and District Athletics Club competitors contesting next week’s Australian Junior Athletics Championships in Perth: Erika Berlin (400m hurdles), Emily Beston (2000m steeplechase), Majella Cassidy (90m hurdles), Aaliyah Chambers (400m hurdles), Larissa Chambers (100m, 200m), Madeline McGuire (800m), Daniel Parnell (400m), Majella Pearl (90m hurdles, 200m hurdles and high jump), Cassie Purdon (high jump), Raemiga Elle Raeli (discus), Ashlee Stieler (90m hurdles, 200m hurdles), Carley Stieler (high jump), Josh Stockill (400m hurdles), Johnathan Taylor (100m, 200m), Jacob Wells (800m).