Sprint coach Gerrard Keating says the Hunter’s junior track and field athletes are on the way up after some stellar performances at the 2018 Australian Junior Athletics Championships held in Sydney in early March.
The performances at the national competition preceded the Little Athletics NSW State Championships, which were held a week later.
Both competitions took place at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre and the Hunter’s athletes produced some brilliant results.
There were a host of the region’s competitors at each event and if they didn’t claim medals, they set some hard-fought personal bests.
Talented all-round sportsman Hugh Sharman took home a silver medal at both events in the 100 metres – running a personal best time of 11.39 seconds during the under-15 national final.
Sharman, 14, was in the Knights junior rugby league squad over summer and had limited training for the meets, but also took bronze in the U-15 national long jump with a leap of 6.0m.
At the nationals, Ashlyn Blackstock won the U-15 women’s shot put with a competition record of 14.68m and took out the discus to go with it.
Montana Monk claimed bronze in two events, finishing third in the U-15 women’s 800m with a time of 2:13.99 (PB) and third in the U-15 women’s 400m with a time of 57.27 (PB).
Teah MacPherson took bronze in the U-18 women’s 100m in 11.18 (PB) and silver in women’s 200m with a time of 24.50.
Jai MacPherson helped the U-16 men’s 4 x 100m relay team claim gold in a time of 43.33.
Leroy Reid claimed bronze in the men’s U-17 long jump and ran a PB in U-17 men’s 200m.
Luke Young won the U-18 men’s 3000m and 1500m to claim two gold medals.
Mr Keating, who relocated to Newcastle from Toowoomba late last year to work both privately and with the Hunter Academy of Sport, has now experienced his first full athletics season in the Hunter and couldn’t be happier with the progress of the region’s athletes.
“The talent here is just extraordinary,” Mr Keating said. “That really does basically come down to the culture and to where in the past, you’ve had really good athletes here. And that’s contributed to [coaches] Maxy Debnam and Hans Tiller.”
Mr Keating believes there are some future stars in the Hunter who could really go on and make a future in the sport at the elite level.
“There seems to be a little bit of excitement towards the sport here and athletes who really do want success,” Mr Keating said.
“Since I’ve been here, that’s shone through in bucket loads. The young athletes want that success; they’re hungry for success.”
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