The start of the 2018/19 season saw Clarence Little Athletics Centre enter its 40th year of operation as a member of the Little Athletics family. CLAC commenced with competition in the 1978/79 season and was the first southern Tasmanian Centre to enter the Association (TLAA).
In the first year of operation there were over 300 athletes competing on a Saturday, which would increase in the following years to be in the order of 500 athletes. In 1978 The Mercury described the overwhelming response by the number of athletes as:
‘…..well overdue in Hobart’. (The Mercury, Nov 16 1978)
Little written information existed on the history of CLAC so this presented as an opportunity to research who we are. Searching through old manuals, newspaper articles and speaking to former founding members we were able to piece together a rich tapestry of our history. This research also unearthed a range of former athletes (some who we already knew of) who have gone onto greater national and international success, such as Hamish and Huw Peacock, Gabby Steele (Prenter), Kylie Risk, Brendan Hanigan, Andrea Hughes and Jack Riewoldt to name a few.
To mark the occasion we decided to reach out to former athletes and hold a celebration at the end of the season, inviting past and present athletes, former founding members, previous administrators, and local Councillors.
We also celebrated our history by asking people to share photos of the bygone days. There was a great response to this and quite revealing to note the changes over the 40 years, especially regarding fashions and safety. It is fascinating that shoes were optional when conducting field and track events, where athletes running, or throwing a discus or shot put in bare feet was quite common. It was also a great walk down memory lane, and talking point, amongst many of our CLAC (and non-CLAC) parents who were former athletes during those 40 years.
We enjoyed a great start to the 2018/19 season. While there were a healthy number of registrations the total number was down from the previous season. Having said that there was still a good number of enquiries from the community regarding participation. There seemed to be a number of issues affecting the drop in numbers, including the continual pressure and expansion of other sporting codes.
For the start of the season, we commenced on the track using our new electronic starting gun. The time had come to switch from the former cap guns to the electronic system. A driving decision was to mimic the process at the State meets, and this was quickly accepted by everyone.
For the Southern/Northern All State, Relays and State Championships CLAC was represented with a strong number of athletes at all meets along with some fantastic results to match. Thank you to all Athletes for representing CLAC at these meets. As usual LATas do a wonderful job running the State meets and Championships.
This season saw 24 local records tumble, with a notable achievement by Luke Palmer who broke the 30 year old under 12 boy’s 800 metre record. There were also a number of State and Outside Records broken by our athletes.
In January CLAC sent along a team of six U12/U13 athletes (3 boys and 3 girls) to the RSM Insurance Brokers Athletics South Club Decathlon. The CLAC team managed a fantastic 2nd place just one point behind Hobart Districts, and scoring for the Centre some of the prize money on offer.
Hobart played host to the 2019 ALAC competition in April. Congratulations to our U13 athletes, Jessica Bray, Avalon Forbes, Darcy Noonan and Blake Harper on their selection to the Tasmanian State Team. They all put in an amazing effort with great results in their events.
As with last year we continued to provide targeted coaching utilising the talents of former athletes and parents. Thanks to go out to the following people: Lianna Kenna, Nick Davey, Heather Palmer, Alan Faint, Angelene Arnold, Stephen Zegveld, Justin McDonald & Andrew Pizzoni.
Other training during the season was the official’s training for our parents. These sessions were run by Roger Hosie, and we thank Roger for his generous support in giving up his time. These sessions were well supported.
Being my first full season as President I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this impressive Centre, with the experience very rewarding. I am surrounded by a hardworking and committed bunch of Committee members, and it is with sadness to say goodbye to a few of those members.
Alan Faint stepped down at the commencement of the season, although he did come along to a number of meets and training days during the season to help out. At the end of the season we said goodbye to one of the contemporary stalwarts of CLAC, Amanda Robertson. Throughout her 13 years Amanda has taken on many different roles, including serving a significant number of years as Secretary and Arena Announcer. Alinta Browne and Bianca Harper also stepped down at the end of the season. Alinta has been invaluable over the years with the operation of the canteen and as Registrar. Bianca also was invaluable with assistance with the canteen and as Treasurer.
Alan and Amanda were also recognised for their greater contributions and dedication to the Tasmanian Little Athletics scene with State Service Awards.
Thanks to our Sponsors – Fairbrothers & Asbestos Solutions Tasmania.
We also thank Coles for their support and partnership with Little Athletics throughout the season, including the generous donation of bananas and the Coles Little Athletics Community Fund grant. CLAC was fortunate to be a recipient of a grant to which we were able utilise in the purchase of a new set of starting blocks, to replace our ageing former set.
Finally we could not do what we do each week without the generous support of volunteers. Without them the children would not be able to compete at the meets and competitions, nor attend the weekly training sessions.