Volunteers key to victory
‘‘We knew it was going to be close, we’re just so happy.’’
That’s the sentiment from Jo Murray of Olympic Harriers, after they were awarded the prestigious Interclub Trophy for overall points earned throughout the summer athletics season.
Fifteen clubs from the Wellington region – including previous holders Titahi Bay Amateur Athletics Club – compete for the trophy from November to March, with place- getting athletes awarded points in each event.
Olympic Harriers was founded over 100 years ago but has only offered a junior track and field section since 2006. From humble beginnings where a handful of 7-to-15 year olds would compete at Interclub and Colgate Games, this season Olympic had 70 at the Wellington champs and about half that number at the Colgates.
Murray puts their success down to a committed group of parents and coaches at events and club nights at Grenada North Park. She cites the influence of Juan Mcdonald, Alastair Leslie and Amanda Goldsmith as key to their accomplishments.
‘‘Olympic has really grown in the past few years and it just shows that if you have enough people willing, you can make a difference. There’s a lot of work that goes on in the background to keep athletics clubs going and we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we have without our volunteers.’’
Leslie can be credited with ensuring a ‘‘drop off’’ in athletes after the age of 15 does not happen, she says.
‘‘He works with our middle distance athletes and puts in hours of his own time, having a real skill in working out what type of training suits each kid. The athletes have lots of fun together, push each other on and encourage one another to reach their goals.’’
Goldsmith, meanwhile, coaches the sprinters and is an ‘‘amazing’’ jumps coach, says Murray.
The recent Wellington junior champs were also fruitful for Olympic. Kushla Smith was a standout, breaking a 30-year-old record in the 1500m for 10-yearolds, and won gold in the 400m, silver in the 800m and 200m, and was a member of the 4 x 100m relay team that won gold.
A club open day is on March 31 at Johnsonville’s Alex Moore Park. Juniors 1pm, seniors 2pm.
Setting the pace: Kushla Smith from Olympic leads Hutt’s Lucy England home in the 1500m final at the Wellington junior athletics champs.
Olympic silverware: Olympic Harriers’ Juan Mcdonald, Amanda Goldsmith and Jo Murray with the spoils of victory after confirming the Interclub Trophy at the Wellington junior athletics champs on March 18.