Rio’s big boost for lit­tle ath­letes

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - SPORT -

SPORTS clubs in WA are gear­ing up to cash in on the in­ter­est gen­er­ated by the Rio Olympics.

And it might not even take a world-beat­ing per­for­mance from an Aus­tralian to in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of ath­letes.

There are about 9000 chil­dren reg­is­tered for ath­letic com­pe­ti­tions in this State.

Lit­tle Ath­let­ics WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Vince Del Prete ex­pects that fig­ure to spike in the forth­com­ing sea­son, driven by the ex­po­sure of the Olympic Games and Australians per­form­ing on an in­ter­na­tional stage.

The Cock­burn Lit­tle Ath­let­ics Cen­tre over­sees three lo­cal clubs and about 350 ju­nior ath­letes.

Spokesman David Pye said in­ter­est in ath­let­ics was not nec­es­sar­ily driven by how well Aus­tralia did in com­pe­ti­tion.

“All these kids at school think they could be the next Usain Bolt or they want to throw the javelin like Kim Mickle,” he said.

“It’s which­ever hero hap­pens to pop up at the time.”

A sim­i­lar point was made by Swim­ming WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Darren Bea­z­ley.

“We an­tic­i­pate that just see­ing our WA ath­letes qual­ify and per­form at the top level will en­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion and in­ter­est both from peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in join­ing a club and those who have taken a break from the sport,” he said.

There are more than 6200 chil­dren reg­is­tered to one of 83 swim­ming clubs in WA.

Mr Bea­z­ley was con­fi­dent ex­po­sure via cov­er­age of the Olympics would help the sport to grow.

“Rio presents a very ex­cit­ing, unique sit­u­a­tion here in WA, with three pool Olympians in Tam­sin Cook, Blair Evans and Bri­anna Throssell, as well as two open wa­ter 10km marathon swim­mers in Heidi Gann and Kane Rad­ford,” he said.

“The huge pub­lic fol­low­ing and ad­mi­ra­tion of these ath­letes will be a huge boost for the sport, es­pe­cially among young swim­mers.”

The South Lake Dol­phins Swim­ming Club has 112 ac­tive mem­bers, but it is not just the Olympics that will help boost numbers.

The club is based at the South Lake Leisure Cen­tre, but will move to the $109 mil­lion recre­ation cen­tre at Cock­burn Cen­tral West when it is com­pleted early next year.

Club spokeswoman Yana Palelei said the move meant more room for more mem­bers.

Pic­ture: Marie Nirme­mu­ni­ d457929

Cock­burn Lit­tle Ath­let­ics mem­bers Han­nah Martin, Zoe Perez, Otto Pye and Sofia De Bernardis.

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