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National News

Hunter launched

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 | IMGSTG Admin

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A large gathering of sponsors, supporters, coaches and athletes attended the official launch of the 2014 Hunter Track Classic at Hunter Sports Centre in Glendale on Tuesday.

There is already much anticipation and excitement for the fifth edition of the Hunter Track Classic which is undoubtedly the showcase track and field event for the Hunter Region, and one of the stand-out annual athletics meets in Australia. The event will take place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th January 2014 and forms an important part of Athletics Australia’s National Athletics Series.

Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter are still on a high after successfully hosting the first ever Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games last week, with the Athletics program held at the Hunter Sports Centre. As a proud sporting region, the people of the Hunter delight in making visiting sportspeople and supporters feel welcome. This was evident throughout the Games, and each year the Hunter Track Classic is no different. The Hunter Track Classic is widely regarded within the elite Athletics community as being the most popular meet of the domestic season. Part of the reason for this has been the innovative approach adopted by the organisers who are constantly looking to make the program exciting for athletes and fans.

Speaking at the launch, Athletics NSW Managing Director and CEO Greg Meagher announced the inclusion of a new Friday night format at the upcoming Hunter Track Classic (Friday 17th January). This will include three new feature events; the Newcastle Gift 120m Pro Race, Twilight 2 Miler Community Fun Run and Hunter’s Fastest Kid. The Newcastle Gift will be held under lights on Newcastle’s No.1 Sports Ground and is set to feature some of the fastest athletes in the land including 2013 Stawell Gift Finalist Tim Eschebach from Thornton. Previous winner of the Stawell Gift, Mitchell Williams-Swain from Brisbane, has also shown early interest.

Headlining the Twilight 2 Miler is event patron and Olympic 5000m Silver Medalist, Sonia O’Sullivan who previously held the World Record for the two-mile distance.

These new events will set the scene for the main event at Hunter Sports Centre on Saturday 18th January. Added to the program for the first time will be the Pole Vault set to be contested by some of Australia’s best Decathletes including Penrith’s ‘Mr Versatile’ Jake Stein and five-time NSW Decathlon Champion, Matt Harris from Maitland, both who attended Tuesday’s launch. The two will battle it out across two other events as part of a customised three-pronged multi-sport event.

“I’m really looking forward to having a hit out at next year’s Hunter Track Classic and hopefully setting up a platform for a big year in 2014,” said 19 year old Stein who won the Silver Medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships.

Fellow multi-sport star Sophie Stanwell of Georgetown (Newcastle), a product of the Hunter, is set to continue the great form she showed in 2013 where she represented Australia at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia and set personal bests in each of the seven disciplines in her chosen event of heptathlon.

Speaking at the launch, Stanwell commented, “It’s been a great year. Representing Australia at the Uni Games was amazing. I’m really looking forward to the Hunter Track Classic where I will aim to repeat the win in the 200m, and then look forward to Nationals and hopefully the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.”

Also representing Australia at the recent World University Games was the young dominant force in Australian short sprints and hurdles, Nick Hough. The 20-year-old claimed the Silver Medal in 110m Hurdles at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona and was selected to represent Australia in the 4x100m relay at the recent IAAF World Championships in Moscow. Hough won the 110m hurdles and 200m at the 2013 Hunter Track Classic. He will attempt the same double in January 2014 as he launches his campaign to secure his place on the Australian Commonwealth Games team as an individual and relay athlete.

“The Uni Games and World Champs experiences were amazing and I’m definitely hungry for more big international championship experience,” Hough said.  “The Hunter Track Classic is a great meet to see where you’re at early in the season. I’m targeting the 110m Hurdles but hopefully I can get up in both it and the 200m once again in 2014.”

Speaking at the launch representing Major Event Sponsoring Partner, The Greater Building Society, Josh Sweatnan reaffirmed the Greater’s support for The Hunter Track Classic and his excitement for the 2014 event.

NBN News will again be the Major Media Partner for the event and NBN Sports Journalist Michael Cain was invited to speak at the launch. Cain reinforced the importance of the Hunter Track Classic for the development of athletics in the Hunter Region, and referred to the event as the equivalent of “Surfest for Athletics”.

Hunter Track Classic Creator and Organiser, elite marathoner Scott Westcott, is looking forward to January and is already quietly confident of 2014 being the best edition of the event’s short history.

“With a new format of events on the Friday night, and a mix of exciting young prospects plus established big names of the sport such as Dani Samuels and Sonia O’Sullivan, it’s going to be a huge celebration of track and field in the Hunter,” Westcott said.

 

Source: Athletics NSW

 

 

 
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