Although the track and field season may have ended prematurely, we can look back with some pride on a highly successful season and can reflect on the huge contribution of our volunteers that allowed this to happen.
It was sad that our local athletes had to miss their Secondary Schools Championships and the annual North Island Schools.
Our leading athletes lost the opportunity to compete overseas but thankfully we were able to complete our National Championships at the beginning of March.
Australia and other southern hemisphere countries missed out and with the uncertainty in the northern hemisphere along with the postponement of the Olympics, it could place New Zealand in a unique position.
I will reflect on local successes in subsequent weeks when I look more closely at our ranking tables (now available on the Athletics Whanganui website) but in the meantime I would like to pay tribute to our volunteers and their generous gift of time and effort which made success possible.
The club has a small and hard-working committee whose multi-tasking has been impressive.
Treasurer Michael Dwyer not only keeps our books in order but also serves the Manawatu/Whanganui Centre as both secretary and treasurer. On club nights and major competitions, he can be found operating the photo finish timing and is always present when setting up for major competitions.
Secretary Richard Drabczynski is a renowned throws coach. He also acts as a leading official at club nights and other major competitions and has helped from time to time with the 10-13 year old section on Mondays.
Paul Duxfield does a huge job with equipment, maintenance of the pits and along with Mark Cressingham is always there at 6pm on Tuesdays setting up for the weekly club nights. Both help also as officials when the athletic events start.
Committee member Kath Edwards officiates weekly and gives us expert first aid assistance at major meetings.
It is good to have youth represented on the committee in the shape of Travis Bayler, who left Whanganui High School at the end of the year. Bayler heads our 400 metre rankings and is third in our 800 metres and 9th nationally and has given great service as club captain and like Sarah Lambert last year has given valuable youthful insight to committee meetings. His mother Kathleen has joined the committee and his father Tony has contributed with huge work, particularly on the setting up of the new hammer cage.
The Bayler family service covers three generations. Travis' grandmother Francis not only still competes as a Masters athlete but officiates weekly at club nights, centre meets and nationally. Her service does not end with the senior section as she helps on Mondays with both the younger children and later on the same day with the 10–13 year olds – an outstanding contribution from a great servant of the sport.
The vibrant children's section set up by Jodie Brunger depends on the help of many including Tere Matthews, Angela Munro, Dinelle Saunders, Mark Kennedy with welcomed help from many others and student help from Te Ata and Lily with others contributing.
As mentioned earlier it is good to see competing athletes assisting.
National class race walker Lucas Martin, still in Year 11, is always on hand to set up for competition and has developed a real feeling and understanding of what is needed to run club and major meetings. When not competing, he helps in the photo finish room.
All our athletes have come to know Collegiate Year 12 student Anna Dai who started as a recorder for field events. She has expanded her role to become our very efficient trackside recorder, recording athletes and their lanes for sprint events to be matched with the photo finish and in distance events at the finish line for similar matching. Dai has also taken on the typing of the weekly results to go on to the website.
The contribution does not end there as Dai has also co-ordinated a group of up to eight student helpers for club nights and keeps a record of such help as the help contributes towards their Collegiate Award as part of the service section of the award.
Dai also trains as an athlete and encouraging her brother Jacky, who won a silver medal at New Zealand Schools in the Junior Triple Jump.
Track and field is a labour-intensive sport with dozens of officials and helpers needed for every meeting. As outgoing chairman, I wish to acknowledge the contribution of so many.
Whanganui is well served by our excellent volunteers.