Helping hand for Wittenoom Cup winner

WITTENOOM Cup winner Noel Sewell has dedicated his unexpected win in the weekend’s golf tournament to his wife of 56 years, Gwen.

The 79-year-old said he had no expectation to win the cup when he entered.

“I thought I would maybe get the best gross; I’ve done that before at previous events,” he said.

“But I never thought for a second that I’d actually win the thing. I pulled it out of the bag.”

With more than 50 years spent on the golf course, Sewell said there was one underlying factor in his many championship wins.

“My wife Gwen has been my biggest supporter. We’ve been married for 56 years and she always supports me playing,” he said.

“I have to dedicate my win to her. I wouldn’t have done it without her never-ending support.”

Albany Golf Club’s Ian Redmond said the former Tambellup player’s performance was a significant event for both the club and for Sewell.

“Noel finished with 144 after his seven handicap, which is a big achievement,” he said.

“His gross was 75 and there’s not a lot of players around that can say that they won an event by shooting their age.”

Veteran player Kim Sounness came in a close second at 144 after Sewell’s strong performance during Sunday’s competition.

The ladies competition saw Walpole’s Hes Anderson with a 147 to win the cup, while Katanning’s Tracey Keown came a close second with 148 and Denmark’s Maria Amesz with 149 and third.

Redmond said the next big event for Albany Golf Club will be on the March long weekend.

“We’re taking registrations for the Albany Classic on March 3 and 4,” he said.

“It’s always a big event and it will be good to see returning players from other clubs.”

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Top field at tournament

TENNIS players from across the state converged on Emu Point Sporting Club over the weekend to compete in the Albany Community Bank Open Tournament.

With more than 100 competitors from Perth, Merredin and the Great Southern attending the tournament, the weekend proved to be a competitive one in all divisions.

Emu Point Tennis Club captain Richard Piggott said the Open attracted a high calibre of players.

“We had the best field of entries seen in Albany for the past few years,” he said.

“The standard of play was exceptionally high, and was very enjoyable to watch.”

Piggott said the atmosphere at the club during the two-day event was great for the competition.

“Everyone was in the right spirit during the weekend,” he said.

“It was two perfect days of tennis.”

Saturday saw the women battling it out in the doubles, with sisters Alexandra Pugh-Riggall and Clare King reigning victorious in A-grade against Albany’s Abbi Gibson and veteran Jenny Rickerby.

Men’s A-grade saw a four-way battle with first-time team Michael Offerman and Vincent Brochard taking the win from Les Bairstow and Ross Truscott.

Last year’s men’s A-grade runner-ups Aaron Crofts and Nathan Watson were unable to push past their four-times runner-up position.

Gibson wasn’t done with the competition when she teamed up with Offerman on Sunday in the mixed doubles.

Brother-sister combo Maddi and Aaron Crofts weren’t able to overcome the dual effort of Gibson and Offerman.

Next up on the tennis competition calendar for the Great Southern is the Junior Round Robin Singles Tournament in Kendenup on February 18.

Entries are now open for the 16-and-under event, and details are on the Lower Great Southern Tennis Association’s Facebook page.

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Early knock-off for Albany doctor

WHENEVER there is a forecast for a good easterly in Albany, windsurfer Joseph Presti knocks off work and makes the 400km journey south from Perth to what he describes as one of the best stretches of water for his beloved sport.

Presti has been windsurfing for the past 34 years and said the flat water at the south-western end of Albany’s Princess Royal Harbour along Frenchman Bay Road’s “smelly mile” was his first choice.

“It has the most consistent winds and flat water in the state,” he said.

“It’s more than worth driving the 800km round trip when the wind is right.

“I’ve got a friend from Cairns that says it’s his favorite spot. He broke two of his personal records there last year.

“I drive to Shark Bay and the Peel Inlet at Mandurah as well, but Albany is worth taking the time off work to wind surf on.”

On a good day, the windsurfers can nearly keep up with the cars on the road adjacent to the harbour that are clocking 80mkh.

Eleven years ago, Presti came up with the idea to change individual-based sport for Australians into a community-based challenge.

“After chatting with a few friends who were windsurfers, I decided to put it to the community if they were interested in an annual windsurfing competition,” he said.

“It pretty much went from there and is now also an international competition that people enter. Last year’s international winner was a team from Belgium.”

The GPS Team Challenge consists of solo and team competitors wearing a GPS during a wind-surfing session and uploading the data to the team challenge website.

“The GPS records everything we do on the water, from our average speed we track in an hour to the average speed we cover in a nautical mile,” Presti said.

“We upload the data, which gets converted into points that ranks us for the competition.”

While four seasonal trophies are up for grabs as well as a perpetual trophy for the end of the year, Presti said most windsurfers are only after one thing.

“It’s all for the glory and bragging rights,” he said.

“My team ‘Mandurah Mob’ has won each of the seasonal trophies this year, the first time ever as well.

“While it’s great we won them all, and will probably win overall for the year, the fact that we did it and made GPS Team Challenge history is more impressive.”

Presti said it’s not too late for local windsurfers to join the Mandurah Mob for the challenge, or to create their own team.

“We’ve got 28 members in our team. Four are from Albany, in fact,” he said.

“We always welcome new members. We’ve got a great community in our team.

“You don’t need to be competitive to join. We’ve got members that windsurf just for the fun of it.”

For more information on the GPS Team Challenge you can visit their website

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Mum’s a broken record

ALBANY athlete Sophie McDonald has hopped, stepped and jumped her way into the Albany Athletics Club record books by cleanly beating her mother’s 34-year triple jump record on Saturday.

Sophie has reset the women’s under 18s triple jump record to a whopping 10.73m, replacing her mum Tracey Menegola’s record of 10.50m from 1983.

The 17-year-old has proved her skill and stamina as an athlete by setting this record on the weekend, as she is currently in her off-season and is participating on weekends to keep up her fitness before the hockey season commences in January.

She had just three jumps on the weekend to beat her mum’s record.

“I got the record by 4cm on my second jump,” Sophie said.

“I went over to Mum because I wanted to rub it in straight away.”

Menegola knew her daughter could do better.

“I told her, you’ve got one more jump, so go and smash it!” Menegola laughed.

Sophie said she couldn’t afford to be distracted by her cheering mum on the sidelines and told her to go away.

“I said no, don’t come over and watch, I’ll ‘no’ jump!”

Menegola stood away from the jump pit to appease Sophie, but managed to sneak closer as Sophie was making her final jump.

On this jump, the young rising star set the new record of 10.73m.

“Dad was timing another race at the time, but he was really excited when we told him,” Sophie said.

“Everyone was really chuffed for Sophie, especially because of the mother-daughter record,” Menegola added.

Menegola remembers her record triple jump like it was yesterday.

“I remember everything, I remember the day and I remember the pit,” she recalled.

“I had to beat something like 10.4m and I was keen to try the record.

“I’ve never jumped that big again!”

Sophie is no stranger to athletics records, having medalled in triple and long jump in state competitions.

She participated in the WA State All Schools Championships and the WA Little Athletics State Championships in 2015 and continues to challenge herself in the 100m track run, triple and long jump, and javelin.

“I’m going to take on the long jump record, which is 5m,” Sophie revealed.

“I can beat it, I believe in myself.”

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Denmark spoil Royals’ return

DENMARK opened their Albany Cricket Association season with a solid win over a young Royals side in their A grade encounter on Saturday.

Skipper Dan Robson set the innings up for Denmark with a patient half century (56) alongside import Jujhar Johal, who showed glimpses of flare in his 30-run debut.

Peter Ross (19) and Michael Pratt (40) firmed up the start made by the openers and helped guide the visitors to a respectable 189-run total.

Royals bowlers shared the workload and were rewarded with an even spread of five wicket-takers.

Royals got off to a solid start and were 3/93 before the wickets began to tumble in the breezy conditions.

They fell 46 runs short and were all out for 146 after 41.4 overs.

Mount Barker’s A grade debut fell flat with a 61-run defeat at the hands of Manypeaks.

After winning the toss, Manypeaks elected to bat first in the Sounness Park fixture.

Peaks’ captain Ryan Kinnear (7) and fellow opener Aran Tilbury (13) fell cheaply before new recruit Harry Broomhall (44) and Warwick Durack (53 not-out) combined to chalk up the bulk of their side’s 167 runs.

Mt Barker were still in the match at 5/92 in their run chase before Wade Anning and Jeremy Stewart ripped through the middle and lower order, taking the remaining five wickets for 14 runs.

Anning finished the match with a five-wicket haul (5/14 from 6.4 overs), while Stewart also started the season with a nippy three over spell to claim 3/18.

Nathan Crosby top-scored for the Bulls with 41 and was supported in the run chase by skipper Jeremy Wood (17) and Luke Hammond (22) before the batting collapse left the Bulls all out for 106 after 36.4 overs.

Reigning premiers Railways started where they left off last season with a comfortable 47-run victory over Collingwood Park on the new turf at North Road.

Mitchell Green (43) and captain Zane Marwick (65) set the innings up for the Tigers, while Collingwood Park enjoyed an even contribution with five wicket takers.

Chasing 170 for victory, Park’s openers went missing in their first match on a turf wicket in two seasons and were languishing at 3/11 before Leroy Van Den Dool offered some resistance, scoring 30 before being bowled out by Marwick.

Marwick’s younger brother Coen led the way for the bowlers with 4/26 from nine overs.

This weekend will see North County playing their first match for the season against Railways, Denmark playing on their home ground against Mt Barker and Collingwood against Royals.

Manypeaks have the bye.

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Junior athletes pass the baton

TWO junior athletes will follow in their coach’s footsteps when they run in the Albany leg of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton relay.

Ten-year-old Tilly Greer and 14-year-old Eleanor Barnett will be carrying the baton on February 22 before it makes its next stop in Denmark.

“I’m so excited to be running in the Queen’s relay,” Eleanor said.

“My coach did the relay a few years ago and still has his shirt and little baton.”

The Albany Senior High School student is a regular in state and national athletics championships.

“I’m pretty involved with athletics and do plenty of training for competitions,” she said.

“I really like doing my 200m, 400m and 800m sprints. I’m not really a long-distance runner.

Tilly is currently overcoming an ankle reconstruction, but will be ready to go for the relay.

Her preferred event is discus, but she has also proven handy at shotput and javelin in her stint at Little Athletics.

Former Olympian and 1974 British Commonwealth games athlete Peter Watson MLA will also be running in the Queen’s Baton relay.

He will join the list of 39 participants from Albany, Denmark and Mount Barker taking part in the relay.

The baton is well on its way to its final destination at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast for the opening ceremony of the Games on April 4, as it makes its way through 70 nations and territories over the 388-day journey through the Commonwealth.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be Australia’s fifth time hosting the event.

Nominated athletes have been carrying the Queen’s Baton since leaving Buckingham Palace on March 13 and running across the globe to bring the baton to Canberra in December to begin its journey through Australia.

The baton is currently in Singapore until Tuesday next week, and will pass on to the Republic of Nauru on November 1.

You can follow the baton’s journey on

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Endurance to test limits

ALBANY’s Steven Williams is putting the final miles into his legs ahead of an epic 180km endurance race in Victoria next month.

Williams will be running from Mount Buller to Bright for the Great Southern Endurance.

Preparation started in December last year and has consisted of a solid regimen of clocking up the miles.

“If I’m not doing long endurance walking, I’ll still go for a walk each morning,” he said.

“Training hasn’t been too intense, but I do try to make my way to the Stirling Range once a week.

“I’ve been steadily increasing the mileage that I run and make sure I do lots on inclines.

“I try and run on average 100km a week. I’m aiming to do 130km this week.”

A large part of Williams’ training hasn’t just been limited to physical training, but also experimenting with high calorie food to eat during the race.

“The biggest challenge is eating enough food and the right food to give you energy for the race,” he said.

“It’s all experimental to make sure your body and your mind are working properly.

“I’ll need to eat roughly 200 calories or 800 to 1200 kilojoules per hour to keep me going.

“Your body struggles to digest food when you’re running as well.

“Having the right things to eat during the race is the difference between finishing and not finishing.”

Williams said he enjoys the challenge of an endurance run and pushing himself to the limit.

“I’ve done two 100km races and a 120km self-supported run before,” he said.

“One of them I couldn’t complete and stopped at 70km. The other was the Wild Goose Chase in June, which was more than 100km.

“This will be by far the longest competition I’ve done to date.”

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Flipping over medals

A GROUP of Albany gymnasts have brought home the spoils after a successful trip to the PCYC State Gymnastics Championships in Fremantle last month.

The Albany PCYC team’s achievements include four state champions, four runners-up and two competitors who placed third in their division.

PCYC Gymnastics Head Coach Michelle Headley was pleased with the group’s performance at the event and the way they represented the club.

“It was a great competition for everyone. They all get along really well,” she said.

“For the 35 that went to the championships, nearly everyone came home with a medal.”

Headley has been coaching gymnastics on and off for the past 10 years, and only started the position as head coach last year.

“I got up to level eight when I was training and competing. It was really good to get into coaching and teach kids what I learned,” she said.

“We didn’t have enough coaches when I started at PCYC, and to see where the kids are now shows how far we’ve come.”

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Shiny side up

SPEEDWAY Street Stocks driver Peter Herbert didn’t know which way was up when he rolled his car in spectacular fashion at Mount Barker Speedway Club’s opening meet last weekend.

Not only did the seasoned competitor walk away from the crash, but he went on to win the event.

“I can remember feeling like I was floating, and thinking the impact was going to hurt,” he said.

“I honestly can’t remember how many times it rolled.

“One of the front wheels got ripped off, and when it landed it caught fire.

“How the car is still in one piece and still runs is beyond me.”

Herbert’s son made the journey down from Perth to see his dad awarded the Speedway Sedans Western Australia Driver of the Year from Mt Barker Speedway, only to end up in the pits helping to get the car back on the track.

“Not only did they get me back out there, but somehow I won the bloody thing,” Herbert said.

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Finely tuned Gibson stars

ABBI Gibson is built for tennis.

The 12-year-old already stands at a towering 180cm and has been graced with agility and strength.

As one of the top tennis prospects for her age in Australia, she covers the court like a ballerina and swings her racquet like a sledgehammer.

Abbi has just returned from two weeks at the Canberra Tennis World Junior Open and spoke to The Weekender while shrugging off jetlag.

The bubbly Lawley Park Tennis Club product might have been blessed with right genes, but it soon becomes apparent it’s not all about jet-setting and natural talent.

She puts in nearly 20 hours a week on the court and in the gym to keep on top of her game.

“I put in a lot of effort,” Abbi said.

“I learn a lot from my mistakes, it makes me a stronger player.”

Abbi’s dad and coach, Colin Gibson, said he’s proud of how much his daughter had accomplished since picking up a racquet as a five-year-old, but the family has had to make some tough choices with funding support to cover the increasing cost of travel yet to flow through.

The only financial assistance Abbi receives is in the form of racquet sponsorship from Wilson.

“She’s had a pretty intense tennis experience,” Colin said.
“We decided mid-way through last term that she couldn’t keep up her training with her schooling without one suffering.

“She’s a competitive girl, so it made sense to start homeschooling her.

“Her NAPLAN results are all in good order, so she’s doing well to keep up with everything.”

Albany Tennis Academy Director David Kerr said the combination of raw talent and dedication set Abbi apart from the hundreds of players he has had through the academy.

“Abbi is in the top couple of kids for her age playing tennis in Australia,” he said.

“She’s only just turned 12, and for her to play like she does is phenomenal.

“She’s a little machine, tennis is in her genes.

“Not only is she focused, but she trains at the highest level of any junior we have seen come though the academy in the last 16 years.”

Abbi’s efforts are now focused on the December Showdown at Melbourne Park where the nation’s top young players compete for a golden ticket to the Australian Open.

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