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 www.gc2018.com/qbr.

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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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Pint-sized tramp champ

SEVEN-year-old Ruby Beckett somersaulted her way to success at the WA Trampoline and Tumbling Qualifying Competition in Perth recently.

After her outstanding performance, the pint-sized gymnast will be jetting off to Melbourne next year to compete in the 2018 Australian Gymnastics Championships.

Ruby joined Albany’s Flip Zone trampolining centre during school holidays last year and immediately excelled.

“She said she wanted to do gymnastics over the holi- days,” Ruby’s mother, Melita Kingsford, said.

“I was driving through Albany doing some odds and ends when I spotted Flip Zone.

“She’s loved it ever since. Every night she flips around the living room, does handstands and push-ups.

“I’m extremely proud of her.”

Ruby travels from Denmark every week for practice sessions lasting anywhere from two to four hours.

Ruby’s coach Kay Panton said she was amazed that Ruby qualified for the national championships in the first round of qualifiers.

“She’s got three more qualifiers in March next year that she still has to compete in,” she said.

“But I’m hoping she’ll go on to be a national cham- pion.

“She’s quite easily the most naturally talented child to walk through my doors. She’s very special.”

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Cricket yarn rolls out

ALBANY author Ian Brayshaw has finished putting pen to paper and is about to launch his latest book Lillee and Thommo: The Deadly Pair’s Reign of Terror.

Mr Brayshaw said that writing a book about cricket legends Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson was a great experience.

“Essentially the book is about the careers of two of the best cricketers in Australian history,” he said.

“They were a formidable pair in test cricket.

“Thommo is considered to be the fastest bowler of all time, and Lillee the best fast bowler.

“I played a lot of games against Jeff and watched him play when I was a radio presenter.

“Writing this book was more than just the impressions of others, but also my memories of the sport as well.”

Lillee and Thommo are best known for their performance in the 1974 Ashes series, and for terrifying the English team.

“Back when I played, no one wore helmets or protective gear like today,” Mr Brayshaw said.

“We wore a cap and this flimsy protective gear that didn’t really do anything to soften the blow.

“When Thommo would bowl it was like a missile coming straight for you.

“It was a formidable job to try and move out of the way quick enough so you wouldn’t get killed.”

Mr Brayshaw will be bringing former WA state cricketer Ross Edwards to the book launch at Centennial Park next Tuesday night.

“Both of us will be talking about the book and telling a few stories about Lillee and Thommo,” he said.

“They’re both such charismatic players to talk about, so the night will be a good one for cricket fans.

“We’ll also have some limited copies of ‘Lillee and Thommo’ for sale signed by Dennis.”

Tickets are available for the October 10 event at Centennial Stadium online or instore at Paperbark Merchants for $5.

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Tigers for life

THE emotion of Richmond’s drought-breaking AFL premiership win last Saturday was too much to hold back for rusted-on Tigers supporters Professor of Aboriginal Studies Len Collard and his wife Lisa.

The pair were in Albany for the weekend and were overwhelmed as they celebrated the Tigers’ 48-point win over the Adelaide Crows at Six Degrees bar.

While the Tigers’ last premiership in 1980 was in the back of most fans’ minds throughout the day, it was the recollection of Richmond’s defeat at the hands of Carlton in 1982 that spilled over into tears for the Collards.

Prof Collard’s brother-in-law, the late Maurice Rioli, won the Norm Smith medal in that match and was the first player in VFL history to be awarded the best-on-ground in a losing side.

Prof Collard recalled Rioli’s response to the agony of losing the grand final, but winning the heralded Norm Smith.

“We were all there at his house, and when Maurice got home after that battle against Carlton, he took the medal off his neck and threw it in the fire,” an emotional Prof Collard recalled.

“He was so pissed off that he was the best player on the ground, but lost the grand final. That medal wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t enough.”

Prof Collard said the Tigers victory on Saturday was “a family thing”, with the Rioli name continuing its contribution, with great-nephew Daniel Rioli lining up for Richmond.

“It is so important to us,” he said.

“Maurice set the precedent for Tiwi Islanders, and to have young Dan and Cyril following in the footsteps of their uncle and continue the Riolis’ contribution to Australian Rules Football is very special.”

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Rising star

GREAT Southern Grammar year 11 student Zainel Bin-Busu is raising funds to participate with his school at a cricket tournament in Dubai next April.

Zainel is a member of a well-known Aboriginal family in Kununurra and has been at the school for four years on a scholarship.

He is one of 13 boys selected for the Great Southern Grammar team, which will travel to the United Arab Emirates to compete with teams from Dubai’s local academies and schools.

“The cost is $4000, but I’m going to fundraise $2000 and my parents are going to pay the other $2000,” he said.

“I’ve never been overseas before, so it is something I’m really looking forward to, and also a new sport.

“I haven’t really taken much part in cricket other than doing it here at school. That’s really exciting for me.”

During his time at Grammar, Zainel said he had discovered an unexpected strength as a leg spin bowler.

“I am now a Year 11 student hoping for a career in sport,” he said.

“I am strongly involved and very committed to the sporting life in the community, and at school I enjoy playing a range of sports.

“I also study sport related subjects such as Physical Education Studies, Outdoor Education and Sport Coaching, which is a Cert II course I’m currently studying at TAFE one day a week.”

He has represented his house in swimming, cross country and athletics and his school in the local basketball competition and Country Week football.

He said he had already raised more than $1500 of the target $2000, with many donations coming from well-wishers in the Kimberley.

“It would be good if people can make any donation. I’ll be truly grateful for that,” he said.

Zainel is fundraising via the internet app Gofundme.

People wishing to donate may find his campaign at gofundme.com/zainels-school-cricket-tour

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Fighting with team spirit

ENDLESS team spirit was the driving force behind Albany Fight Fit’s bags of medals last weekend, when the young martial arts pupils challenged Perth students in an inter-club tournament.

Albany Fight Fit owner and instructor Daniel McGrath led a team of 20 children for a two-day martial arts competition at the Innovative Martial Arts studio in Canning Vale.

Students participated in pattern work and sparring, and won themselves a multitude of individual and team medals and certificates.

“They all had such a great attitude,” Mr McGrath said.

“I was really impressed by all the kids because they were cheering for everyone the whole time and had a really great team spirit.

“One young competitor from the opposite team was losing her fight, but my kids kept cheering her on and it was just really great.”

The youngest Albany Fight Fit competitor was Jade Wilkinson, at just four years old.

“Jade was a bit nervous to begin with and needed some of my help, but then her confidence went through the roof and she was fantastic,” Mr McGrath said.

The Albany Fight Fit team included students ranging from four to 16 years old, and between them were awarded 18 gold medals.

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