More than 2,690 students from 120 primary schools converged on Sydney Motorsport Park for Day 2 of Sydney Catholic Schools’ inaugural Pre to Post Cross Country Championships.
On a bright and sunny day in Sydney’s west, the championships officially began with Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg Heights student Alexa Filipakis leading the audience in a most beautiful acapella rendition of our national anthem.
It so moved the athletes that some spontaneously placed their hands on each other’s shoulders in camaraderie and as a sign of respect.
And so began our students’ road to the Catholic Primary Schools Championships.
Sydney Catholic Schools’ Manager for Sport, Damien Kerr, was elated with how well things went on both days of competition.
“It was wonderful to see the crowd support and the wonderful displays of graciousness and sportsmanship from all our athletes, whether they won or lost,” Mr Kerr said.
“It was also pleasing to see how many parents and athletes were using the SportSplits Real-Time Tracking app to watch the live results come in – this is the first time we have made this app available to our schools and families.
“We also saw huge numbers tune in to our first Cross Country live stream.”
Two very proud Sydney Catholic School principals and sports lovers narrated the action for the audience watching the live stream – Chris Egan from Regina Coeli Catholic Primary School Beverly Hills and Hannah Schneider from Villa Maria Catholic Primary School Hunters Hill.
“We commentated for the Swimming Championships and we loved it,” Ms Scheider said.
Also present was Sydney Catholic Executive Director, Tony Farley, who handed out medals and filmed his next weekly video message from the championships, which will be accessible via this link and on Facebook from 5pm on Friday, 27 May.
“Sydney Catholic Schools is proud to provide our students with the opportunity to participate, as well as to trial and represent at a state and national level” – Damien Kerr
24 athletes will be selected from each of today’s events and will return to Sydney Motorsport Park on Tuesday, 7 June, for the Catholic Primary Schools Championships*.
At these championships athletes will vie for spots in the NSW All Schools Championships on Friday, 22 July, also at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Among the athletes moving along Sydney Catholic Schools’ representative sports pathway is St Mark’s Catholic Primary School Drummoyne student Benjamin Case, who ran the 11 Years Boys 3km event in 11:55 minutes. He was today named the Conference 2 winner and Overall winner for his age group.
Benjamin was understandably tired, remarking that in the weather-beaten sections of the course “your foot would get stuck and slow you down.”
“I practice once or twice a week by running around Canada Bay with my dad, and I do soccer as well,” he said. Benjamin plays for the Balmain Tigers Football Club.
*Breakdown of the athletes who form part of the continuing 24 athletes for each age division come from conference results and event times.
Mud, grit and determination
Each of the races today started on the grass area and then moved onto the asphalt, resulting in many mud-stuck sneakers – some athletes even crossed the line clutching one shoe.
Not surprisingly, race-goers’ bodies, socks and sneakers were covered in mud. “The hardest thing about today was running in the mud,” said 12/13 Years Girls Conference 4 winner Gemma Howard, of St Luke’s Catholic Primary School Revesby.
Overall winner of the Multi Class Boys 2km race, Massimo Cassino from St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School Botany, was unperturbed however, even going so far as to describe the course as “quite simple”.
“I trained really hard,” said Massimo, who had his own vocal cheer squad barracking for him in the grandstand. A group so loud they could be heard cheering for him from across the venue at the winners’ dias.
This is one of the pearls of wisdom he offered to other runners: “Never give up and stay confident.” Sage advice.
“Congratulations to all the winners and participants. You have a lot to be proud of” – Damien Kerr