Rio Olympics offer local athletes golden future opportunities


Cockburn Little Athletes Hannah Martin (12), Zoe Perez (9), Otto Pye (12) and Sofia De Bernardis (11) are inspired by the Olympic Games.
Picture: Marie Nirme        www.communitypix.com.au   d457929
Cockburn Little Athletes Hannah Martin (12), Zoe Perez (9), Otto Pye (12) and Sofia De Bernardis (11) are inspired by the Olympic Games. Picture: Marie Nirme        www.communitypix.com.au d457929

SPORTS clubs in WA are gearing up to cash in on the interest generated by the Rio Olympics.

And it might not even take a world-beating performance from an Australian to inspire the next generation of athletes.

There are about 9000 children registered for athletics competitions in this state.

Little Athletics WA chief executive Vince Del Prete expects that figure to spike in the upcoming season, driven by the exposure of the Olympic Games and Australians performing on an international stage.

The Cockburn Little Athletics Centre oversees three local clubs and about 350 junior athletes.

Spokesman David Pye said interest in athletics was not necessarily driven by how well Australia did in competition.

“All these kids at school think they could be the next Usain Bolt or they want to throw the javelin like Kim Mickle,” he said.

“It’s whichever hero happens to pop up at the time.”

A similar point was made by Swimming WA chief executive Darren Beazley.

“We anticipate that just seeing our WA athletes qualify and perform at the top level will encourage participation and interest both from people who are interested in joining a club and those who have taken a break from the sport,” he said.

There are more than 6200 children registered in 83 swimming clubs in WA.

Mr Beazley was confident exposure via coverage of the Olympics would help the sport to grow.

“Rio presents a very exciting, unique situation here in WA with three pool Olympians in Tamsin Cook, Blair Evans and Brianna Throssell, as well as two open water 10km marathon swimmers in Heidi Gann and Kane Radford,” he said.

“The huge public following and admiration of these athletes will be a huge boost for the sport, especially among young swimmers.”

The South Lake Dolphins Swimming Club has 112 active members, but it is not just the Olympics that will help boost numbers.

The club is based at the South Lake Leisure Centre, but will move to the $109 million recreation centre at Cockburn Central West when completed next year.

Club spokeswoman Yana Palelei said the move meant more room for more members.

Little Athletics WA: www.walittleathletics.com.au.

Swimming WA: www.wa.swimming.org.au.