The final four of the Eliminator with the Mayor of Willougby Council.
L-R Richard Sarkies (Striders), Rhys Gillon (Illawong and Districts), Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney, Farjman Atshan (UTS Norths), and Harrison Jones (The Scots College).
G – G – G at Rotary Field
That’s the Great Grass Games!
Saturday 28th November was a day of differences at Rotary Field this weekend. Not only were the events different from those we normally see on a meet programme, but the athletes even ran the wrong way round. No, not backwards - clockwise. Our hosts were UTS Norths and Northern Suburbs Little A’s, and they put on a splendid day for the athletes.
On the lovely grass track of Willoughby Council’s Rotary Field we saw rarely competed distances such as 60 metres, 150 metres, 300 metres, 600 metres, 3200 metres and the killer of killers, the 400 metre Eliminator.
Whilst in the field there was backward overhead shot (work that one out), aggregate long jump (standing jumps and then jumps of 5m, 10m and 20m run ups) and a blast from the past: scissors-only high jump (officiated and unofficially coached by Katrina Morrow and Don Allen). The rules? Pre-determined, but able to be modified on the spot to make for a flexible and operational event.
But make no mistake, this wasn’t just a happy day out. It was a serious day’s athletics. A number of leading junior athletes were there competing, including Rhys Gillon (ILL), Sophie McGovern (UTN) and Nicola Bowtell (UTN), as well as some aspiring senior athletes such as Kiara Fioravanti (ASW) and Kenneth Vuong (ASW),and supported by many leading masters athletes. It was especially pleasing to see such a large contingent from the Scots College there and of course a big group from home club UTS Norths.
Events were only offered in the Open category, so all athletes had the opportunity to compete against each other, irrespective of age (concessions in implement weights was applied for field events). So we saw masters competing alongside Little A’s - in one heat of the 300 metres, the age difference was 61 years! This role-modelling was inspiring for our younger athletes and showed that athletics truly has a place at all ages in life.
And we say many terrific performances, including:
- Kenneth Vuong taking out a double in the 60m and the 150 m
- Sophie McGovern taking out the same double for the women.
- Cselko Skye taking out both the women’s jump events.
- Richard Sarkies (SSR) beating son Wilson in the men’s aggregate long jump.
Full live results available here.
But perhaps the “feature event” of the day was the 400 metre Eliminator. Like the rest of the day this was the brain child of ANSW’s recently departed Assistant Competition Manager, Matt Lynch. Only a “retired” 400 metre runner could have inflicted this
pain event on athletes.
The original principle was that competitors would run a 400 m lap of the track, with reps continuing on each 2 minute mark, and sudden death resulting in the last one or two runners being eliminated each lap, meaning no athlete was safe and ‘cruising’ went unrewarded. False starts (including sneaking extra recovery) resulted in instant disqualification, and 7 brutal laps of survival were required before reaching the final.
14 athletes, including sole female and masters athlete Deborah Drennan (UTN), battled it out. To say there was some ‘gentlemanship’ in the early rounds would be understating things. Slow runners being “persuaded” to run even slower so the faster athletes got longer rests; fast athletes not running flat out so they didn’t overly tire themselves, but applying some sneaky sprint finishes to make sure they weren’t eliminated. All to the delights of the crowd who cheered them on!
Nevertheless, eliminations were reality and the final four left were Farjam Atshan (UTN), Rhys Gillon, Harrison Jones (TSC) and Richard Sarkies. Gillon had been dominating affairs throughout the early rounds and he set off at a cracking pace and had established a clear lead at the 200 m mark, which he held as they entered the straight. As they came the straight Atshan challenged, pushing hard to the line, but it was Gillon first across the line in the pretty quick time of 61.31. A remarkable effort for the Eliminator champion, given he’d just run 5 back-to-back 400s!
A great day was had by all. Thank you to Gail Giles-Gidney, Mayor of Willougby Council, for coming and supporting our event. We appreciate the ongoing support you give to our clubs and your involvement in it. We are so thankful for the ANSW officials who embraced the spirit of the day and so happily assisted us, and to UTS Norths, Northern Suburbs Little A’s and Athletics NSW for their support and dedication in operating this event. This innovation was exciting and refreshing – what a chance to have some serious competition in unusual and different events. The challenges make it exciting and contagious, and a great way to keep athletics evolving.
For more photos, see the UTS Norths Facebook page.