Young elite athletes will train locally thanks to a new partnership

Travel is a problem for many young people wanting to explore opportunities outside of regional areas. But for some up-and-coming athletes, training is going to be a lot closer to home.

Three young ‘elite athletes’ will be the first to undertake athletic training locally, under a partnership between FedUni’s WestVic Academy of Sport, the Ararat Fitness Centre and Ararat Rural City Council.

Keelan Perry (athletics), 14, Eugene Read-Spinks (athletics), 16, and Brad Saunders (skateboarding), 17, are three locals who will be training in their own backyard.

(left to right) Eugene Read-Spinks, WestVic Academy’s Corey Saitta, Keelan Perry, ARCC Mayor Cr Peter Beales, and Brad Saunders.

Council CEO, Dr Tim Harrison said the partnership will mean participants don’t have to travel long distances, saving them time and money.

The athletes will use local facilities during their training, such as the Ararat Fitness Centre, as well as having access to personal trainers.

“The partnership will greatly reduce the need for these up-and-coming athletes to travel, something that can be a financial burden and time constraint for sports people with potential,” Dr Harrison said.

“We are really excited by what the program will mean for these athletes. Not only will it help Keelan, Brad and Eugene directly, but it also signals to young people in the local area that you don’t have to move to a major centre to reach your goals.”

WestVic Academy is a not-for-profit organisation based in Ballarat that delivers programs including strength and conditioning, fitness testing, skills training and education programs.

The Academy includes badminton, cycling and netball, and Executive Officer Corey Saitta said she is keen to scout out potential within the area.

“This will directly benefit the athletes here already, but we are already exploring ways we can identify more athletes,” Mr Saitta said.