The arrival of the Golledge brothers, Tony and Tommy, at the tiny Currabubula Public School at the start of the year was the genesis of a coming together that would culminate with state athletics championship gold.
“The moment they got here I could tell – they’re big and very fast,” said Chloe Begley, a teacher at the school and coach of the school’s 4x100 metre relay team that won gold in the small-school section (no more than 25 students) at last week’s NSW PSSA Athletics Championships at Sydney Olympic Park.
Tony and Tommy, in Year 6 but not twins, were on that team. As were Phebe McNamara (Year 6) and Isobel Bonner (Year 5).
Of the some 140 North West athletes at the event, Currabubula’s relay team claimed the only gold. The foursome were the only athletes from the school at the event.
The achievement led to the school’s Facebook “blowing up”, Begley said. “We’re very excited,” she continued, adding that the achievement was also being disseminated via the “big notice board” on the road in front of the school.
“Random people have been asking me about it,” she said. “I’ve had some phone calls from teachers at other schools. The parents [of the runners] were ecstatic. They were bawling their eyes out. It was pretty good.”
While Begley knew she had a fast quartet to work with, preparing for the carnivals they needed to excel at to make the state championships, and then the latter itself, was problematic, given the school does not have a circular oval. In the end, they drove to Tamworth, at least once a week, to train on the athletics track there.
After qualifying for the state championships through the zone and North West carnivals, they travelled to Sydney and not only won gold, but did so in style – triumphing by a comfortable margin.
“The competition gets better as they go up [in class],” Begley said. “So the North West carnival had some good teams. But obviously at state, you find out what you’re made off.”
Indeed. The team had to run a heat, a semi-final and the final on the same day. For McNamara, an even greater effort was required. She also ran the 100m and competed in shot put.
The day before, she competed in the 200m and long jump. She made the final of the 100m and 200m.
The relay team shaved more than four seconds off the time they ran at the zone carnival, clocking 59.6 seconds in Sydney.
“The minute they raced, I said to the parents, ‘They’re probably going to get to state,’” Begley recalled.