Academy aims to unearth new talent

HAYDEN Knowles is on the right track to find the next athletics star at Blair Oval.

He has set up the Athletics Allstars Sprint, Throws and Jumps Academy for aspiring athletes aged 12-18 at the St Marys venue, where London Olympian Beki Lee developed her talent for race walking.

Hayden is the son of Denis Knowles, coach of Olympian and 2009 world discus champion Dani Samuels, who will help with coaching on Tuesday afternoons.

Also on board is Australian sprinter Hayley Butler and former 400 hurdles world champion Jana Pittman.

Knowles' aim is to give juniors the top resources.

He used the example of Samuels, who trained two days a week until she took athletics more seriously at the age of 15.

She won bronze three years later at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and, at 21, became the youngest world champion in her event.

"Our mission is to recognise past athletes, and inspire others for the future," Knowles said. "Our aim is to create an environment so they can rise."

Knowles was searching for a venue when he came across Blair Oval, the home of Nepean Little Athletics, and was impressed by club president Jeff Baxter.

"Jeff's passion was off the Richter scale," Knowles said.

"The kids can train on real grass, which is better than artificial grass at other venues," Baxter said.

He hopes the academy will attract more youngsters for the Little Athletics season and encouraged other clubs to attend the annual gala day in November.

Knowles hopes to set up the Athletics Allstars academy at other venues.

His dream is to get sponsors on board so juniors can attend the academy at no cost.

Cost is $85 a month for a minimum three months.


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