For up to 120 national or international level athletes, Townsville’s Festival of Athletics is a key competitive meet and one of the last remaining qualifying opportunities for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Member for Townsville and Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the Festival of Athletics was another part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Economic Recovery Plan for the North.
“We’re expecting an extra 7500 visitors in Townsville this weekend including 1400 athletes, 2500 spectators and 200 volunteers,” Mr Stewart said.
“Athletes will be bringing their Olympic medal aspirations and a $2 million economic boost for the city.
“Townsville is the events capital of Northern Australia and it will be great to have such a high-quality competition in the city this weekend.”
Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the inaugural Festival of Athletics was an excellent example of North Queensland’s potential.
“With quality infrastructure, Townsville has a good reputation for hosting competition and training events for elite athletes,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Townsville is the place to be this weekend to witness the speed and skill of some of Queensland’s best athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“For dozens of athletes this weekend in Townsville is critical to securing a plane ticket to Tokyo in the hunt for an Olympic medal.
“Time is of the essence and the pressure is on which will make for a great spectator experience at the Townsville Sports Reserve.”
Rohan Browning will be racing – the first Australian male sprinter to qualify for the Olympic 100 metre competition in 17 years.
He’ll be joined by fellow Olympians Cedric Dubler (Decathlon, QAS), Kurtis Marschall (Pole Vault) Anneliese Rubie (400m) and Brooke Stratton (Long Jump).
Australia’s rising world star in the Decathlon Ash Moloney (QAS) will also be having a final hit out before he makes his Olympic debut, as will 200 metre sensation Riley Day (QAS).
Sprint stars Alex Hartman (QAS) and Maddie Coates will be in action along with 800 metre runner Morgan Mitchell and Javelin thrower Liam O’Brien (QAS).
There will also be two Paralympic world record-holders in sprinter Isis Holt and middle-distance runner Jaryd Clifford.
Other athletes competing include New Zealand national High Jump record holder Hamish Kerr and Oceania Javelin record holder Kathryn Mitchell.
Athletics North Queensland Manager Strategic Development Dayne O’Hara said the Festival of Athletics is a celebration of sport that the whole community can take part in.
“There will be a fun run and corporate, school and club team challenge on Saturday,” said Mr O’Hara.
“The festival is unique in the athletic community, the first time ever we are offering a very large sporting event to the wider community that will aim to be a major attraction on the tourism calendar.
“Our Under 20 and Open level athletes will be competing against Olympians while other age competitors can watch the nation’s best athletes in action while also sharing the same track.
“Our goal is to remove all barriers to sporting participation, so there are no limitations on who can attend – all ages and abilities are welcome to come and run, jump and throw.
“We hope to create a festival vibe as we build strong connections within the community, encouraging clubs, schools, businesses and residents to unite and get active.”
The Festival of Athletics will feature athletes from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries.
The Townsville Sports Reserve is owned and operated by the Queensland Government and features an international standard, eight-lane synthetic athletics track and grandstand seating for more than 900 people.