Mar 30, 2010

Athletics Administrators and Hensley Field

Each day as I drive past Hensley Field I see the revitalisation of this important sporting complex continue unabated.  The earth is being moved, the facilities upgraded and this great multi-use facility if moving inexorably towards completion.
I will soon announced and I will outline a new level of support we’ve received for the multi-sport facility, which will take this ground to a new level.
But, before I do, I want to recount a story that probably gives some perspective to the campaign that was waged against Council,  over our proposed revitalisation of Hensley.  The story I’m about to recount shows the disconnect between sporting officials and administrators and those who actually participate.
Sydney mum Hayley Butler is a 100 metre hurdler who for reasons of injury as well as the birth of her son took a three year rest from the sport she loved.
She decided to return to her sport and set gaining a spot on the Australian team to the Commonwealth games in Delhi in October.
In her first race, the ACT titles, she set a time that not only bettered the B-qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games, but was the second fastest behind Olympic silver medallist Sally McLellan.  Ms McLellan is unfortunately injured and only time will tell if she makes the Australian athletics team for Delhi.
But let’s go back to Ms Butler.  First run in three years and she wins the race and, as she thought, a spot on the Aussie team.
She reckoned without the ubiquitous sporting officials and Athletics Australia, who I think were one of our critics over Hensley.
Ms Butler’s heinous crime as far as the officials were concerned was that she hadn’t had her name checked off before she ran what was an amazing race.
She missed the little tick on a little bit of official’s paper – and in the check-in zone.
They did, however, let her run under a protest and she won in a Commonwealth games qualifying time.
Any joy she may have had was some dispelled by Athletics Australia when the protest was heard.
Athletics Australia flatly rejected her protest – the rules on marking a name off a bit of paper must be maintained.  No variation to the strict adherence of rules could be countenanced by this supreme bunch of sporting officials.
She had to run again – over the past weekend at Sydney Olympic Park.
She won her event and looks like overcoming even the best endeavours of the sporting officials and will represent her country in Delhi.
But the great bunch of sporting officials who laid down the law in Ms Butler’s first event, showed how they supported an athlete who excelled in the only way they know how – by turning their backs on achievement.
In many respects they are like the ones who would have loved to kick the little athletes off Hensley and grab it for their own aggrandisement
Why would we think they’d do anything else.

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