NIAS: Inaugural athletics program gets underway

Faster, higher, stronger might be synonymous with the Olympic Games but it could also be the motto of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport’s newest program.

Athletics is being offered by the academy as a core sport for the first time.

“After having a strong number of athletics athletes in the NIAS Lonestar program and on the back of Athletics NSW appointing Adam Jolliffe as their new Regional Support Officer, we thought it would only be fitting to utilise Adam and offer a athletics program for athletes in the North West and New England region,” NIAS Sports and Events Officer Brent Hartley explained.

Jolliffe will co-coach the inaugural squad alongside World Masters 35-39-years 200m and 400m indoor champion Jay Stone, and said it is a huge step for the sport in the region.

Previously the only access to the academy’s resources has been through the Lonestar program.

More of an individual-based training program, the numbers were also limited.

The 18-strong squad encompasses the full gamete of disciplines – runners, throwers, and jumpers, and Jolliffe sees the program only growing to be bigger and stronger in the future.

“The standard of athletes that we have is very good,” he said.

“Every single athlete we have in the program has repped at state championship level whether little athletics, school or Athletics NSW.”

“We just want them to be able to grow and make the next transition.”

As well as enhancing their skills on the track and in the field, they will also be involved in education sessions covering resilience, nutrition, sports psychology and injury prevention.

The squad met for the first time earlier this month.

After going through their plans for the year, Jolliffe said they took the kids through some fitness testing, and assessed them on various different aspects including speed, power, strength and mobility.

“It gave us as coaches an idea of what the kids might require,” he said.

He said they will meet them once a month.

They will also in late January head down to the hunter to train down there.

“That Saturday night is also the Hunter Track Classic.

“We’re trying to get some of our senior athletes into that,” Jolliffe said.

The annual Academy Games will also look to showcase athletics as one of the core sports offered over the weekend.

Squad: Sarah Addis (Attunga), Benjamin Chick (Tamworth), Mitchell Clarke (Gunnedah), Sarah Gill (Tamworth), Kaleb Hope (Glen Innes), Paige Levingston (Tamworth), Teraia Marsters (Walcha), Bridie Martin (Tamworth), Amelia Mazzei (Saumarez Pond), Tabitha Peterson (Armidale), Lacie Quigley (Quirindi), Declan Rich (Armidale), Bethany Schulhin (Watsons Creek), Georgia Simm (Tamworth), Mikielee Snow (Glen Innes), Georgie Webster (Glen Innes), Sami Wilkie (Tamworth). Coaching team – Adam Jolliffe, Jay Stone