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ATHLETICS TURNED ON IT’S HEAD WITH HUGE PRIZEMONEY BOOST

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Greg Lyons, Wayne Clarke and Greg Whitecross pictured recently at the Llanberris Athletics Track.

BALLARAT will host a new athletics competition next year.

Melbourne-based athletics promoter Wayne Clarke is proposing to host the meet – the Ballarat Track Classic on the Monday of the Labour Day Long Weekend at the Llanberris Athletics Reserve. A former junior champion and record holder, Clarke has put forward a program of four $5000 races, over a middle distance. “It will be going ahead,” Clarke said. “It will just be a track meet, no field events and predominantly built around the men’s and women’s one mile and a men’s and women’s 3000m all with $5000 prize money for the winner of each of those races. “Nic Bideau, an old class running mate of mine and leading coach, has guaranteed his athletes for five years.”

Clarke said the idea for the Ballarat Track Classic was born on a recent visit to Ballarat where he met up with another former running mate and friend, Greg Lyons, who in turn is a friend of Greg Whitecross, Ballarat Athletic Club committee member, who has been helping Clarke with making contacts in Ballarat. “We thought it would be good for Ballarat to have a meet like this, and a leadin to the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane,” Clarke said. “There hasn’t been anything like this before, it’s all groundbreaking stuff.” The Ballarat Track Classic will flow on from a similar meet in Mentone in February, which will also have $5000 prize money for each winner of a men’s and women’s mile and 5000m races. Clarke added that Llanberris should be able to accommodate around 4,000 people. As well as the featured Classic the day would feature support races, music and food and be conducive to a great family day out.

“I’m excited that it’s a five year commitment to bring international athletics to Ballarat,” Clarke said. “Nic has a huge stable now – probably one of the most prominent athletics coaches in the world, he had five Olympic finalists in Rio, and this year he will have more, and I’m bringing that world class calibre of athletes to Ballarat.” Clarke added he has a lot of respect for Ballarat and Ballarat athletes, with fond memories of competing here in the 1970s. The Ballarat Track Classic will not be the only contribution to Ballarat athletics. Clarke said he has agreed to a sponsorship deal for the Ballarat Gift, from next year.

“We thought it would be a good thing to help sponsor the Gift 1600m and the Open 3200m races, as well as my meet,” Clarke explained.