Athletes ready to turn up the heat at champs

SPEEDSTER: Natasha Favotto will compete at the NSW Country Championships in Dubbo.
SPEEDSTER: Natasha Favotto will compete at the NSW Country Championships in Dubbo.

While many of us were enjoying that extra serve of Christmas pudding over the festive season break, members of Armidale Athletics club were busy sweating it out on the track ahead of the NSW Country Championships in Dubbo. 

Club president Jay Stone estimated around 40 athletes, the biggest group in the club’s history, will make the trip to the central west for the annual carnival on January 20-22. 

There will be a range of abilities and experience levels going from the local club and Stone said it is a great platform for high level runners and beginners alike to get a hit out at a representative level. 

"For some of them, it is the first time they have ever run on a synthetic track and others have already qualified for this year's national titles and they are just using this for a bit of a tune-up race, and everywhere in between,” he said.

He hoped some of the athletes would be able to run good enough races to earn themselves a start at the National Championships. 

"We have got 10 athletes who have already qualified for the Australian titles and we are trying to get another five or six who have potential to get those national qualifiers,” he said.

“We will be trying to get those through as well.

"Dubbo is a really good opportunity for them and if we get good conditions, hopefully they can get a qualifying performance.” 

The heatwave across the state may be painful for some, but the athletes have been using it in preparation for Dubbo’s searing temperatures. 

"It has been hard work but I think it is going to help us acclimatise a little bit for it,” Stone said.

"We haven't been hiding from the heat, we have been working hard in it and it is probably going to be even hotter in Dubbo but a different kind of heat, a bit drier, not much altitude so a bit different but we will be ready.”

Armidale Athletics have had plenty of success over recent years with last year’s Country Championships’ team finishing seventh in the pointscore, their highest position at the event yet. 

Massive regional cities such as Newcastle and Wollongong take teams to the carnival each year and always provide plenty of competition but don’t have as many entries this year with just a few days left to register. 

The local club put the call out to other clubs to make the trip out.

Stone said based on registrations so far, his team look to be one of the biggest sides making the trip and they have a good chance at finishing toward the top of the order this year. 

"Some of those 'country' clubs are not so willing to travel out to Dubbo so we might have a better chance of winning that pointscore or coming a bit higher then seventh,” he said. 

"Everyone is doing multiple events which is good for the pointscore, nobody is just going over there to run one run and everyone has been working hard over Christmas.

“We have been training right through so we are expecting some pretty good performances.”