As the calendar year draws to a close, it is pleasing to be able to give a report of a summer season in full swing. While the Sydney weather meant that we were unable to complete much of the revised Club Championships program last weekend, entries far exceeded our expectations. Similarly, numbers for Treloar Shield meets are up from last year, participation in Club All Comers meets is generally stronger than last year and in September the Association hosted the biggest NSW All Schools Championships in history.
Similarly, the results from the Winter Survey have shown that the community believes that this year's program was an improvement on 2017, with athlete satisfaction scores up correspondingly. The results of these surveys have been considered by the Winter Harriers at their annual meeting as well as by the Competitions Advisory Panel and will inform decisions for winter 2019.
Looking ahead, there is a packed month of January, highlighted by some great regional events. The first meet of the year for 2019 is the Dubbo carnival on Friday 4 January Country champs with the Illawarra Track Classic following on Saturday the 12th. Over the Australia Day long weekend we will see one of the most important stretches of athletics for the year, as the Hunter Sports Centre hosts not only the Country Championships but also the flagship high performance meet for ANSW: the Hunter Track Classic on the evening of Friday 25 January. Some of the best athletes in the land will be competing and this year, for the first time, ANSW is proud to partner with Pure Performance Sports to offer a $5,000 bonus to any athlete who breaks an Open National Record. With Joseph Deng and Peter Bol already locked in to have a crack at the 600m national mark, this promises to be a great night. For Club athletes who might not have a national record in their sights just at the moment, there will be two Treloar Shield meets in January, starting on the 5th at SOPAC. Details of all events are on the ANSW website.
On the track, congratulations go to the NSW team which defended its national title at the Australian All Schools Championships in Cairns at the beginning of the month. The athletes battled some truly horrific weather conditions at times, yet still managed to achieve some wonderful results. Click here for the report. These Championships also represented the final team for our State Teams Manager, Imogen Kemp, who is leaving us at the end of the year. More than a thousand athletes have been under the care of Imogen over the past two years, both at National competitions and also within the Target Talent Program, and they have been fortunate to have such a professional, diligent and considerate administrator. Thanks for everything, Imogen!
While we will miss Imogen immensely, I am excited to confirm that Matthew Joyce will be joining the team in mid January, looking after state teams as well as some other areas. Some of you will know Matt as one of the driving forces behind the Cherrybrook Athletics Club where he has been on the Committee for a number of years, others will have met him as one of the Team Managers for the recent All Schools team in Cairns, while others still may have been coached by him. I personally worked with Matt professionally before even coming to ANSW and am thrilled that we have been able to bring him on board. It is a wonderful opportunity to add someone who cares deeply for Club athletics while also understanding how the business of Athletics NSW operates.
Finally, this update marks my last as CEO of Athletics NSW. It has been a privilege to spend the past three years working to try and advance the sport, however the time has come to move on and allow the next person to drive the next phase of the ANSW. While one never really 'finishes' a job like this, given the challenges and opportunities which continue to present themselves, I am proud of the advancements that have been made, including:
- the development, alongside Little Athletics NSW and NSW Masters Athletics, of the OneSport Strategic Plan 2017-2020
- the improvement in participant satisfaction scores for both the summer and winter surveys. This shows that while the changes made to our events may have been difficult, they are seen by our community as being a step forward
- that we are now delivering courses to three times as many aspiring coaches each year as was the case in 2015
- that we are now engaging with more schools than ever through the school carnivals program, which sees our qualified and experienced officials assist at school carnivals
There were many things which could have been done better, and which can be done better in the future, however, overall I believe that I leave the Association in a stronger position than I found it.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of the team - staff, officials and volunteers - who have given so much over the past three years (and in many cases far longer). I also offer a special thanks to the three Chairs of ANSW with whom I have been fortunate to work: Sean Scanlon, Brian White and Peter Higgins. I am truly grateful for your counsel and leadership.
But that's enough from me, other than to say that on behalf of all of the Athletics NSW team, we wish you a wonderful holiday break and all the best for the New Year.