Sport

Aussie sprinters are falling too far behind

PLAYING CATCH UP: Australia’s fastest man Joshua Ross (right) was a strong medal hope for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but is currently serving a suspension for breaching ASADA’s athlete whereabouts code
PLAYING CATCH UP: Australia’s fastest man Joshua Ross (right) was a strong medal hope for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but is currently serving a suspension for breaching ASADA’s athlete whereabouts code Getty Images

COULD you name Australia's fastest man?

If you can without searching Google, then you're doing better than most.

On Thursday, Athletics Australia named a 103-strong team to compete at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games - the biggest track and field team Australia has sent to a major overseas competition.

However, this country doesn't have a single starter in the men's 100m.

Some would say that's an absolute disgrace, others would shrug their shoulders and say: "We've got Sally Pearson to cheer".

But the truth is, in the land of speed, Australia barely gets out of the starting block.

Australia went to the 2012 London Olympic Games without any male sprinters in either the 100 or 200 metres, while Melissa Breen was the only athlete selected in the women's 100m despite not having run an Olympic qualifying time.

The blue-riband men's 100m generates the greatest hype and excitement at the Olympic Games, yet without a headline act in the making track sits mired in a slump.

So what's happened to sprinting?

Is Australia no longer obsessed with speed? Has not enough been spent on development? Have the Americans and Jamaicans raised the bar so high it's just too hard?

During a frank discussion with Gerrard Keating at the Hervey Bay Athletics Club's sign on and fun day on Saturday, the former Commonwealth Games sprinter put the onus squarely on the athletes.

While they are increasingly becoming prime targets for the football codes, Keating, who now works as a development officer for Little Athletics Queensland, believed today's crop of male sprinters would rather take the easy option, labelling them "soft".

"Unfortunately with athletics in this country, only a few get sponsorships and can make a living out of it, the rest you have got to work or have to study and that's the reality," he told the Chronicle.

"You can use that as an excuse, but you look at what they do in Africa, the Caribbean or other countries they're far worse off than us but they manage.

"That just comes down to their soft.

"Our generation of sportspeople, particularly individual sportspeople are soft and aren't willing to do the work so will either leave the sport or go to another sport and are happy to play that sport at a lesser level.

"You will find a lot of athletes who are great at school are happy to play for their local club in rugby league and get $200 a week.

"They put that as better than representing Australia and to me that's sad."

Keating was unequivocal in saying Australia can produce the talent to go on and dominate men's sprints.

Sad as it might be, though, our future track and field stars don't know who their heroes are.

Aside from Pearson, Australia's Commonwealth track and field team features no household names- the glamour, flash and superstars who command air time and print space are missing.

With less than four years until Gold Coast hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australian athletics needs an injection of star power.

We need our star male sprinters. Someone who can not only motivate an entire squad, but also inspire our future Olympians who want to be like him.

While other sports are ridden with success and big names with big personalities, Keating believed Athletics Australia miss the boat when it comes to promoting their top athletes.

"It's the federation's fault for not getting our athletes' names out there and it's not that difficult," he said.

"We need role models and people to know who these people are to get kids interested in the sport."

So who is Australia's fastest man?

That honour would go to Joshua Ross, a seven-time national champion and dual Olympian who is serving a ban for breaching ASADA's athlete whereabouts code.

Ironic isn't it?



Backpacker tax scrapped as changes bite on farmers

Rob Bauer of Bauer's Organic Farm. The farm has launched a paddock-to-plate online shop. Photo: LucyRC Photography

Region's farmers still unhappy with decision

Job plan working, Qld minister says

Magnifying glass over a newspaper classified section with \"Job Opportunity\" text

Our plan to get Queenslander's back to work

Work on $800k mobility corridor to get underway this week

Work on a new mobility scooter corridor is set to get underway.

Work on a new mobility corridor has begun.

Local Partners

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Huge Gunalda service station set to open by December

NEW STATION: The Gunalda Service Centre, owned by United Petroleum, will include a 350-seat eating area and a truckers lounge.

The massive servo is the biggest United development in Queensland.

Property leader says Fraser Coast market is looking up

Positivity is the buzz word in the Fraser Coast housing market

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual