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Hunter Sports Centre Sprints Towards World-Class Status

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Shari Hurdman, 15, about to sprint on the new track.

A striking new practice and warm-up track is set to elevate Lake Macquarie’s Hunter Sports Centre to world-class status, paving the way for the venue to host national and international events.

 

The four-lane track, featuring a 110m straight and a 40m bend, was completed in time for this weekend’s Regional Little Athletics Championships, which will see almost 1000 young athletes descend on the venue from the Hunter and Central Coast.

The $2.7 million project also included construction of new warm-up areas for field events such as shotput, hammer thrown and discus, with new state-of-the-art sports science space for athlete testing and performance monitoring still to come.

The work was jointly funded by the Australian Government, the NSW Government and Lake Macquarie City Council, and will be officially opened Friday evening.

Federal Hunter MP Dan Repacholi said the Australian Government was proud to have delivered $960,000 to make the world-class facility a reality.

“As someone who has competed at the highest levels, I know how important it is to have good facilities for training and competition,” he said.

“These new facilities will draw the best of the best to Lake Macquarie for national and international events, which is exciting for our region.

NSW Minister for Sport Alister Henskens said Hunter Sports Centre would help cultivate the State’s next generation of athletics champions.

“The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government recognises that having access to quality spaces and places is key to the success of our emerging athletes,” Mr Henskens said.

“Facilities such as these are vital to the development of our athletes, and contribute to the State’s sustained success on the national and international stage.”

Hunter Sports Centre General Manager Brendan Barrett said the track provided room for athletes to warm up and practice on 100m sprints, with a 15m ‘deceleration zone’, as well as a bend to practice other track events such as hurdles and relay.

“Having the warm-up and practice facilities is the last hurdle we have to clear to be certified as a World Class 1 facility,” he said.

“This will enable us to host national and international athletes and events, so it’s a very exciting period.”

Mr Barrett said the new facilities would be open to all Hunter Sports Centre users, including school groups, Little Athletics clubs, seniors and elite competitors.

Unusually for an athletics facility, the warm-up track is nestled within bushland, with a green canopy arching above parts of the straight.

“The facilities are uniquely situated with native bushland as a backdrop,” Mr Barrett said.

“It means that athletes will be warming up in a quiet and focused space, close to the main track.”

Elite local athletes gave a unanimous thumbs-up after road-testing the new facilities earlier this week.

World Under-20s discus No.2 Ashlyn Blackstock, Paralympian Evan O’Hanlon and up-and-coming track stars Shari Hurdman and Janice Hicks said the facilities were second-to-none outside Sydney.

“Every major event I’ve gone to so far this season, there has been no discus warm-up area,” Blackstock said.

“It’s just amazing.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said planning was now well underway to add a new Trampoline Centre of Excellence to the Hunter Sport Centre, together with a major redevelopment to include a three-storey sport and community centre.

“This expansion will put Lake Mac on the national and international map for athletics and other sports,” she said.

“Our region punches above its weight for producing top-level athletes, and this new centre will help train and nurture the next generation of stars.”

Project funding included $960,000 through the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, and $1 million through the NSW Government’s Regional Sports Facility Fund.

Council funded the remainder.

Go to lakemac.com.au for more information about the Hunter Sports Centre expansion.

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