Clarence Little Athletics celebrates 40 years of family, fun and fitness

CLARENCE Little Athletics Centre (CLAC) celebrated its 40th anniversary recently with a day full of special events, staying true to its motto of “family, fun and fitness.”

Past presidents, athletes, volunteers and parents were invited to attend, while current athletes aged five to 15 years put their skills on display.

The centre hosted a morning tea including a 40th birthday cake, a wonderful display of old and new memorabilia put together by the committee and an invitational 100-metre sprint.

CLAC president Shane Cox, along with one of the centre’s founding members and former Tasmanian Little Athletics Association (TLAA) president Ken McNamara, spoke to the athletes and parents about days gone past.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for community members to delve into the past, dust off old photos and talk about fond memories of Little Athletics days,” Mr Cox said.

“It’s great for the current families to see where we’ve come from and how lucky we are today with our current facilities.”

Past members were given the honour to present the winners of the 2018/19 season ‘Most Improved Trophies’ to each age group – a highlight for many to see the young athletes proudly mixing with past athletes.

Clarence Deputy Mayor Heather Chong was presented with a commemorative 40th year medallion from the centre.

CLAC started with a small group of parents in the late 1970s who wanted to organise athletic sporting activities for their children to participate in the local area.

A steering committee was formed including Ken McNamara and Chris Wilson, who went on to be two of the founding members of CLAC in 1978.

Clarence was the first southern Tasmanian Centre to enter the TLAA, with the initial clubs under its banner of Howrah, Warrane, Rokeby and Lindisfarne each operating at various ovals in the Clarence municipality.

CLAC would later be joined by Bellerive in 1981, and Lauderdale and Richmond in 1982.

In the first year of operation, upwards of 280 athletes were competing on the Eastern Shore, which increased to more than 500 athletes the following year.

CLAC operated at Kangaroo Bay for 30 years before being relocated in 2015 to the purpose-built facility at Clarence High School.

The new facility has seen current athletes compete at a high standard, with a number of Clarence club records being broken since the move.

“We are extremely proud to have numerous past members who have gone on to greater sporting pursuits within the Australian and international sporting world,” Mr Cox said.

This includes javelin medallist Hamish Peacock, long-distance runner Kylie Risk, AFL player Jack Riewoldt and Athletics Tasmania executive officer Gabrielle Steele.

“Although we are very proud of these athletes, our central aim is to ensure that every child that wants to try athletics is given a safe and friendly environment to do their best,” Mr Cox said.

“The objectives at the centre today remain as it was all those years ago as a family friendly activity, where children of all abilities are encouraged to participate.”

Mr Cox said he was excited to see what the future had in store for CLAC, with four of its athletes – Jessica Bray, Avalon Forbes, Blake Harper and Darcy Noonan – having recently competed with the Tasmanian team at the Australian Little Athletics Championships.

Clarence Little Athletics Centre operates from Clarence High School on Saturday mornings from October to March.

For more information or to get involved, contact clarence@littleathleticstasmania.com.au or visit www.clarence.org.au.

Caption: From left, Mike O’Brien, Ken McNamara and Frank Weston celebrate the 40th anniversary of Clarence Little Athletics Centre.

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About the Author: Eastern Shore Sun

The Eastern Shore Sun is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 30,000 homes and businesses in the communities of Clarence and Sorell. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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