Coach Gary Clark on the Mid West Academy of Sport athletes who impressed on the track over 2023

Headshot of Fraser Williams
Fraser WilliamsGeraldton Guardian
Mid West and State representatives Ella Batten, Nevaeh Hill, Christi Bestry and Nicole Chamberlain
Camera IconMid West and State representatives Ella Batten, Nevaeh Hill, Christi Bestry and Nicole Chamberlain Credit: Gary Clark

The Mid West Academy of Sport had some stand-out performances with its track and field athletes throughout 2023.

The academy has six athletes on full scholarship in track and field, with coach Gary Clark saying they all exceeded expectations at both State and national level.

This also marks the first full year since the academy launched the sports talent identification program in 2022, which invited nine more athletes into the track and field squad.

The program ran alongside the announcement of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics, and provides the athletes with specialised training in recommended track and field disciplines.

Lead athlete Ella Batten managed to finish second in the under-18s heptathlon during the Australian Track and Field Championships in Brisbane.

She followed up the performance with a third finish in the National All-Schools 100m hurdles, and a podium finish at the State Championships in high jump.

“A remarkable effort by this talented all-round athlete who continues to improve,” Clark said.

“Her sights are now being set on making the Australian under-20 team for the World Championships.”

Coming off a hot 2022, Nevaeh Hill backed it up by winning the under-18s 400m hurdles at both the State Championships and State All Schools Championships.

However, a stumble in the nationals resulted in Hill coming up with a fourth-place finish.

“This was an amazing recovery as the mishap probably cost her a certain silver medal . . . Nevaeh also has a strong chance of pushing for a place in the national under-20 team,” Clark said.

Under-17s athlete Christi Bestry grabbed gold in the 2km steeple at both the State Championships and State All Schools Championships, while also recording a fourth place finish in the State Cross Country Championships.

Finishing just behind Bestry for second place in the 2km steeple was 16-year-old Nicole Chamberlain.

“Nicole is one of our most dedicated trainers, has huge endurance qualities and it was no surprise she was able to step up to the 25-lap track race, the 10,000 metres,” Clark said.

He said newcomer Wynand Neethling made an impact, claiming his first medal with a bronze at the State All Schools Championships in the under-17s javelin.

“He has thrived on the additional training . . . he has the potential to become a leading State decathlete with his speed, power and strength,” Clark said.

With the squad size increasing due to the sports talent identification program, newcomers like Trey Horobin, Paige Heinrich, Amelia Heinrich, Lochie Hadley and Macey Hadley have shown improvement according to Clark.

“With just 12 months training in the squad, (they) have already been amongst the medals at a State level and have also broken little athletics records,” he said.

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