SPORTS Carnivals Association of Tasmania president Mike Gunson says the state’s historic Christmas Carnivals Series are now on a stable ground.
Low crowd numbers and other factors had many doubting their future several years back but Gunson is predicting high crowd numbers in 2016-17.
“Five or six years ago there was a lot of pessimism around... (and) I believe we have turned the carnivals around,” he said at the series launch in Launceston on Thursday.
“There are a lot of other things on at the same time that weren’t there 20 years ago like Falls, Taste of Tasmania and so the carnivals have adapted to that and realised that they have to present a program that will attract people back.” About 80 national and international cyclists from 10 different countries will compete along with several Olympic runners on the track.
Devonport cyclist Macey Stewart and Hobart sprinter Jack Hale have been named this year’s ambassadors.
Hale, 18, who is looking to better his second-placed finish in the Burnie Gift last year, said the carnivals would be used as hit outs for a potential Nitro series birth with Usain Bolt and national and world championships races later in the season.
“My goal is to go there, race well, do well under pressure, which I didn’t really do last year I let it get to me a little bit,” the Stawell Gift finalist said.
“I’d really like to win one of these gifts, having placed at a few now. Backing up semis and finals in quick succession in the gifts really benefits you when it comes to make championships, as they often run on a similar timetable.”
The Australian under-20 record holder will compete at the Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie carnivals.
- Rosebery Carnival – December 17
- Westbury Criterium – December 26
- Latrobe – December 27
- Launceston – December 28
- Ulverstone Criterium – December 29
- Devonport – December 29,30
- Burnie Criterium – December 31
- Burnie January 1
- Hobart – January 8
- St Helens – January 21