Elite athletes to get a helping hand in their own backyard

Posted Tuesday 19 March, 11:59am

Young elite athletes from the region will be able to undertake essential training locally rather than having to travel to larger centres, thanks to a new partnership aimed at bolstering athletes with potential.

Keelan Perry (athletics), 14, Eugene Read-Spinks (athletics), 16, and Brad Saunders (skateboarding), 17, will be the first three local athletes to benefit under the new partnership between the FedUni’s WestVic Academy of Sport, the Ararat Fitness Centre and Ararat Rural City Council.

Council CEO Dr Tim Harrison said the partnership means participants will be able to take part in training programs locally rather than having to travel long distances, saving a lot of time and money.

Dr Harrison said the WestVic Academy, a not-for-profit organisation based in Ballarat, delivers programs like strength and conditioning, fitness testing, skills training and education programs. Ararat Fitness Centre will help deliver these programs through free use of the centre and access to personal trainers.

“The partnership will greatly reduce the need for these up-and-coming athletes to travel, something that can be a financial burden and time constraint for sports people with potential,” he said.

“We are really excited by what the program will mean for these athletes. Not only will it help Keelan, Brad and Eugene directly, but it also signals to young people in the local area that you don’t have to move to a major centre to reach your goals.”

The Academy runs direct programs for sports like badminton, cycling and netball, and provides talent identification services to an even broader spectrum.

The ongoing search for talented athletes is a key function of the Academy, and Executive Officer Corey Saitta is keen to see what potential the area has to offer.

“This will directly benefit the athletes here already, but we are already exploring ways we can identify more athletes,” Mr Saitta said.

“We have really successful partnerships with Horsham College and Bacchus Marsh Grammar, and we’re sure this will be just as successful.”

Photo above: (left to right) Eugene Read-Spinks, WestVic Academy’s Corey Saitta, Keelan Perry, ARCC Mayor Cr Peter Beales, and Brad Saunders.