This year has been a very busy one for Athletics Australia, and it is with much enthusiasm that I can reflect on our many successes in my new role as President and Chairman.
As we look ahead with anticipation to the 2014 National Athletics Series, incorporating the Australian Athletics Tour, and the major championships that follow it, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the many people involved with our sport on a job well done this past 12 months.
As I’m sure you all now know, I was appointed to the Presidency of Athletics Australia last month as part of the formalities surrounding our 2013 Annual General Meeting.
My appointment as President of Athletics Australia is something that I am very proud of, and I am confident that I will bring a wealth of knowledge to the role having been involved with the sport of track and field both competitively and administratively for nearly 50 years.
Taking over from the outgoing Rob Fildes OAM, the commencement of my tenure comes at a very important time for the sport as we move forward following the recent decision by Little Athletics Australia not to sign the Heads of Agreement which would have seen Australian senior and junior athletics unified under a single governing body.
Although we are keenly disappointed by this decision given we stood ready to sign the merge Heads of Agreement with the strong support of our Member Associations, we will continue to work with Little Athletics Australia towards the betterment of the sport of athletics in the hope that one day our two bodies can finally become one.
I thank their President Dereck Fineberg and Chief Executive Martin Stillman for their efforts in trying to make the merge a reality and the Australian Sports Commission and their Chairperson John Wylie for their strong support of the process.
It is important, however, that we as a sport continue to execute our strong plans in the areas of able-bodied and para-athletics high performance, coaching development, competition and participation. It is vital that we work hard to assist in the delivery of the Australian Institute of Sport’s Winning Edge program and extremely important that we continue to explore all avenues that could lead to improved commercial viability for the sport.
I would also like to reiterate what a fantastic job Rob did during his time as President and Chairman. He has been a true servant of athletics in Australia and I congratulate him on a history of success that leaves the sport in a much stronger position financially and with much stronger relationships with our key partners including the Australian Sports Commission, the IAAF, the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committees and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.
The official end of our year at the Athletics Australia Annual General Meeting followed a remarkable few months of green and gold performances at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships, the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships and the 2013 IAAF World Championships respectively.
Although the Board of Directors have made comment on these performances previously, I would like to take this opportunity to personally extend my wholehearted congratulations to all athletes, coaches and team staff for representing your country in the best possible fashion.
I also thank the extensive support network of family and friends that assist our athletes, their coaches and team staff in becoming the best they can be in the most comfortable and rewarding environment. These surroundings are vital in ensuring the best possible outcome for our sport.
I, together with the Athletics Australia Board of Directors, now look forward to 2014 and the many exciting projects that we, as a sport will undertake.
Headlined by the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the year also includes the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships, the IAAF World Indoor Championships, the IAAF World Race Walking Cup, the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and the IAAF Continental Cup.
More locally, the Australian athletics season will launch with the Hunter Track Classic in Newcastle on 18 January, before continuing with events in Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
The Go for 2&5 Perth Track Classic, the Sydney Track Classic and the IAAF World Challenge have been declared as Australian Athletics Tour events, and we will return to Lakeside Stadium in early April for the 92nd Australian Athletics Championships & Commonwealth Games Selection Trials.
We will also see the continued progression and improvement in the development and roll-out of the Accredited Athletics Coach Framework, the commencement of Athletics Australia’s Para-Athletics Junior High Performance Program, the launch of Athletics Australia’s new digital platform and, importantly for seamless Australia-wide communication, a national database of registered state association members for the first time.
There is a very exciting time ahead for our sport and I look forward to sharing it with you all.
The unwavering cooperation and support of the IAAF, the Oceania Athletics Association, the Australian Olympic Committee, the Australian Paralympic Committee, the Australian Commonwealth Games Association and Athletics International is abundantly appreciated by Athletics Australia. Here’s to continuing our strong relationships in 2014.
Additionally, for their encouragement and financial support across 2013, I would like to extend our thanks to our commercial partners Qantas, Be the Influence, Asics, 2XU and the Art Series Hotel Group, as well as our government partners Eventscorp Western Australia, Destination NSW, the Sydney Olympic Park Authority and Department of Sport and Recreation Victoria.
I thank the Athletics Australia Board of Directors, including my Vice Presidents Matthew Mahon and Nick Moore, for their effort in the development of athletics.
I also thank Dallas O’Brien and his very hardworking and dedicated team of staff at Athletics Australia headquarters. Their tireless dedication to the delivery, promotion and growth of our sport is something the Board of Directors is very proud of and I trust that their motivation will continue into the New Year and beyond.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I hope that 2014 delivers whatever athletics goal you set out to achieve, and I wish you all the best of luck in whatever endeavour you contribute to making athletics the best sport in Australia.