State athletics championship back at Olympic Park

After two years of COVID disruptions, the NSW Combined High Schools Sports Association Secondary Athletics Championship is back at Olympic Park.

Image: Action from the opening day of the NSW Combined High Schools Sports Association Secondary Athletics Championship.

One of state schools’ biggest sporting events is back in business with the Sydney Athletic Centre hosting the NSW Combined High Schools Sports Association (NSWCHSSA) Secondary Athletics Championship.

The marquee fixture got underway on Wednesday at Olympic Park after two years interrupted by COVID-19.

The championship features approximately 1,800 students (including 58 multi-class athletes), 120 staff and 4,000 spectators competing over three days.

A launching pad for some of the country’s finest athletes such as 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Brandon Starc (The Hills Sports High School), the NSWCHSSA Secondary Athletics Championship showcases participants across 265 events in track and field.

“It is such a positive to have state athletics happening again after the past two years of COVID disruption,” NSWCHSSA Executive Officer Jacky Patrick said.

“School athletics carnivals are such a strong part of the culture for many schools. Students can feel a real sense of connection and belonging when they are selected to represent and progress through the pathway at school, zone, association, state and national level competition.

“It is particularly exciting that we have also seen so many Australians perform extremely well in athletics at the recent Commonwealth Games.”

While the event will inevitably shape some future champions, there are also plenty of other heart-warming stories of those who have had to battle just to make it to Sydney.

Thirteen-year-old Year 7 student Scarlett Nowlan, from Lawson High School in Grenfell in the Central West of NSW, spends a day’s worth of time in buses every week just to get to her school.

Living in a remote farm more than 50km away from Lawson High School, she still finds time to run for 3-5km every day at her property or the surrounding dirt roads.

After state representation in swimming and cross country, Scarlett tried her luck on the track and took out the 800m event at the Western Region carnival in Dubbo by almost two seconds to book her ticket to Sydney.

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