Tasmanian athletes shine at Pacific School Games in Adelaide

BRIGHT FUTURES: Jacob Gardner, Mac Wilcox, Harrison McLeod and Tyler Jones showing off their bronze medals. Picture: Andrew Allison

BRIGHT FUTURES: Jacob Gardner, Mac Wilcox, Harrison McLeod and Tyler Jones showing off their bronze medals. Picture: Andrew Allison

The Tasmanian all-schools track and field team has returned from competition in Adelaide with a handful of the state’s best young athletes earning a spot on the podium. 

Attending for the fourth consecutive year, team manager Dominic Anastasio said the experience has been joyful and valuable for the development of the younger competitors. 

“Overall it’s been really great, the under-12s especially have been inspirational,” Anastasio said.

Team captains Jayden Eldershaw and Bianca Anderson, both 12 and from Glen Dhu Little Athletics Club, were noted for their courageous and brave attitudes throughout the competition. 

Anderson finished fifth in her combined multi-class event, while achieving a personal best record of 4.10m in the long jump. 

Anastasio praised the pair highly for their commitment to the team. 

“Jayden and Bianca were fantastic leaders throughout the trip,” he said.

“When the under-12 boys medley relay team was down a member and Jayden was sitting on the sidelines eating some food between events – the other runner was sore and didn’t want to risk any injuries – so Jayden stepped up a ran a fantastic leg.”

Traditionally, the track and field competition is dominated by the larger states and territories, however, this year’s impressive performances can only bode well for future mainland meets. 

Anastasio said the Tasmanian team were not overawed. 

“For some athletes, it’s been unfamiliar in terms of how the events are approached,” he said.

“It’s a good insight into how things operate over here [in Adelaide] with the warm-ups and different relay events.

“The team spirit has definitely been on display, with all the other athletes cheering on their team-mates, especially during the relays.”

Other personal highlights from the week’s action include 11-year-old Forth Primary School student Chelsea Scolyer, who collected a silver medal in the 100-metre sprint and bronze in the 200 metres.  

But it was the hard running of North-West coast athlete Tom Winkel that caught the eye of Anastasio.

“Tom Winkel showed outstanding determination and spirit during his 800m run, he was neck-and-neck with his competitor with 50 metres to go but unfortunately couldn’t finish with a bronze,” he said.

The under-11 boys medley relay team consisting of Punchbowl’s Mac Wilcox, Swansea’s Tyler Jones and Southern duo Jacob Gardner and Harrison McLeod finished third, which Anastasio had never seen before in his four years of attending the carnival. 

“Winning a relay (medal) here is definitely a rarity for Tasmania. I can’t recall the last time one of our team finished on the podium,” Anastasio said.

McLeod also performed admirably in the 100 metres, claiming second in the under-11 boys age group.

This year’s Pacific School Games marked its 10th anniversary.