30th January 2013
Paralympians set to turn Classic into Wheel Deal
In what will be a world first for Track & Field, the 2013 Hunter Track Classic is set to showcase some of the best local & International Wheelchair Athletes as part of a unique Team Pursuit event.
Two teams of five athletes will contest the 2000m event which is sure to be one of the features of the program at the Hunter Sports Centre, Glendale on Sat Feb 2.
The starting line-up reads as an All-Star list of current Australian & International Wheelchair Athletes with nearly all having represented their country the recent London Paralympic Games, and claiming a swag of medals.
Already well known as a hot spot for Wheelchair Athletics, thanks largely to the efforts & achievements of Kurt Fearnley, Christie Dawes & Coach Andrew Dawes, Newcastle & the Hunter is fast becoming a Centre of Excellence for the sport.
It is fitting then, that the region?s pre-eminent Track & Field meet, now part of Athletics Australia?s National Athletics Series, showcases & celebrates the sport by the inclusion of the innovative Wheelchair Team Pursuit at this year?s meet.
Ten athletes will take part representing two countries and four different Australian states. Combined, they boast an amazing amount of racing pedigree.
Headlining the list is London Paralympic Gold Medalist Richard Colman OAM (VIC) who backed up his win in the Men?s T53 800m with a Bronze medal in the Men?s T53 400m.
Colman was also part of the Australian Men?s T53/54 4x400m Relay in London & will be joined on the track at Glendale by his fellow Bronze medal-winning team-mates, Matt Cameron (QLD) and Nathan Arkley (SA).
Crowd favourite & Merewether local, Christie Dawes, is set to take part, following a gutsy performance to win the Bronze medal in the Women?s T54 5000m, as well as competing in the Women?s T54 Marathon, both at the London Games.
Angie Ballard (NSW) will also be in action. Competing in the T53 category, Angie was ranked number one in the world last year in both the 100m and 200m for female T53 athletes. She made her way onto the dais three times in London winning the Silver medal in both the Women?s T53 200m & 400m, plus the Bronze medal Women?s T53 100m.
A late inclusion to the event is Canadian Paralympic super-star Michelle Stilwell. The Wheelchair racer from Winnipeg is the first and only female Paralympic athlete to have won Gold medals in two separate sports (Basketball & Athletics).
Stilwell was part of the Canadian Team that beat Australia for the Gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Games, and then went on to win Gold medals at the Beijing & London Games in the Women?s T52 100m and 200m. She currently holds the World Record for her class (T52) in the 100m, 200m & 400m.
Without doubt Australia?s most successful & high profile Wheelchair Athlete, Newcastle?s Kurt Fearnley OAM, is unfortunately unavailable to take part at this year?s event but is a huge supporter of the concept saying,
?Its great to see the Teams Pursuit event included on the program at this year?s Hunter Track Classic. It is something we often do in training & should be great to watch for the spectators. There is some fantastic talent coming through & I?m sure the guys will put on a great race.?
The Hunter meet comes only days after the Oz Day 10K was held on the streets of The Rocks in Sydney. The annual Australia Day race, won for the 9th consecutive time by Fearnley, gave all the Hunter-bound athletes the chance to size each other up before they do battle on the track this Saturday.
As well as being involved in what is sure to be a fun & exciting inaugural event, there is a serious side to the competition. Over the coming weeks & months, these athletes will look to earn selection for the upcoming International Paralympic Committee World Athletics Championships in Lyon, France held later this year (19th-28th July).
The event is an adaptation of the Team Pursuit featured in track cycling.
Distance is 2000m or 5 laps of the track.
The two teams will start at half way along the straight, on opposite sides of the track.
Teams consist of 5 athletes who start from stationary.
Two athletes per team can drop out.
The finish time is taken from the hub of the front wheel of the third athlete in each team.
Team A Team B
Michelle Stilwell (Canada) Christie Dawes (NSW)
Angie Ballard (NSW) Rosemary Little (NSW)
Nathen Arkley (SA) Madison De Rozario (WA)
Jake Lappin (Vic) Richard Colman (Vic)
Sam Carter (Qld) Matt Cameron (Qld)
Athlete?s recent achievements:
Richard Colman (Vic) - Gold medal Men?s T53 800m, Bronze medal Men?s T53 400m, Bronze medal Men?s T53/54 4x400m Relay (London 2012).
Christie Dawes (NSW) - Bronze medal in Women?s T54 5000m plus Women?s T54 Marathon finisher (London 2012).
Michelle Stilwell (Canada) - Gold medal Women?s T52 200m, Silver medal Women?s T52 100m (London 2012).
Angie Ballard (NSW) - Silver medal in Women?s T53 200m & 400m, Bronze medal Women?s T53 100m (London 2012).
Nathan Arkley (SA) - Bronze medal Men?s T53/54 4x400m Relay, plus Men?s T54 5000m & Marathon finisher (London 2012).
Matt Cameron (Qld) - Bronze medal Men?s T53/54 4x400m Relay (London 2012).
Jake Lappin (Vic) - Men?s T54 400m & 800m. Runner-Up at the inaugural Fernleigh15 (Oct, 2012).
Madison DeRozario (WA) - Women?s T54 100m, 200m & 400m (London 2012), Silver medal Women?s T53/54 4x100m Relay (Beijing 2008).
Rosemary Little (NSW) - Women?s T33 100m & 200m (London 2012).
Sam Carter (Qld) - represented Australia at the 2011 World Championships in New Zealand. Recently qualified for 2013 World Championships in the 100, 200 & 400m.