Former medallist calls for athletics facility

Former Commonwealth Games medallist and current athletics coach Barbara Beable believes a new...
Former Commonwealth Games medallist and current athletics coach Barbara Beable believes a new 400m track in Wanaka would benefit the town’s entire sporting community. Photo: Sean Nugent
Former Commonwealth Games medallist Barbara Beable believes Wanaka’s current track and field facilities are  in desperate need of an upgrade.

The only track and field facility in the Upper Clutha is the Mount Aspiring College field, which has a six-lane 400m track and a long jump pit, both of "poor quality" according to Mrs Beable (nee Poulsen).

The former pentathlete and shot putter who won a silver medal in shot put at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, has been a coach at Wanaka’s Aspiring Athletes Club for the past two years.

With the club edging close to 100 members, she believed the Queenstown Lakes District Council should set aside some land, preferably in the Three Parks development, that could be developed into a track and field facility.

She said it could be built in stages, the first stage to ideally feature an eight or nine-lane grass 400m track, and all-weather run-ups for jumping and throwing events.

Long term, she envisioned a facility similar to Newtown Park in Wellington, which has a full-size football field encircled by a 400m all-weather athletics track.

"We could have competitions here, training camps, national champs. There would be a huge commercial kickback [from those events]."

"There’s huge potential. It’s a place everybody would want to come and run.

"Not only would it be valuable to the athletics club, Mrs Beable said, it would be an asset for Wanaka’s entiresporting community.

"[Running] is so fundamental to every other sport you play. It’s fundamental speed work that rugby players, hockey players, everyone needs. Everyone needs speed work, and to do it, you need a track."

Deputy mayor Calum MacLeod thought it was "definitely a good idea" and thought the track could be located somewhere in the Three Parks development, either near the current recreational facilities, or on land that had yet to be defined.

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