SW Olympics (2 of 6)

I first parked my beige 1983 model corolla at Sydney Olympic park in late 1994. Athletics NSW has moved much of it’s summer inter-club competition to the new venue built to support the Sydney 2000 Olympic bid. Since winning the bid in September 1993 the Homebush precinct was set to become a the centerpiece of the games. History now tells us the Sydney Games were amazing and the Sydney Olympic Park has transitioned into a sports, events and business hub. I now work for Athletics NSW who are based at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre and have spent more time racing and training in and around Sydney Olympic Park than another other location in Sydney.

At aged 19 making the trip over the mountains from Parkes during my summer break from University of New England, I was eager to run at the Olympic venue. The athletics venue was complete and the hockey and indoor sports venue had been around for some time already while the Olympic stadium or indoor arena were not even a scratch in the dirt. There was no P1 or P2, instead the ample parking was provided by the concrete pad left by the cattle abattoir.

Convinced that I was destined to progress my prowess as a runner I made a commitment to myself that day as I walked from my car to the athletics track; this would be my second home. I would race and train until one day, 6 years from now, I could represent Australia at the 2000 Olympic Games.

It’s funny now how at 22 years ago my dream was so far yet so close to the path I would ultimately tread. Would I have chosen back then to continue the journey had I known that I could realise the dream but 16 years later? Could I have predicted that I would one day be working for Athletics NSW organising and delivering events at Sydney Olympic Park even though in 1994 I was studying Agriculture?

Walking across to the newly built Athletics Stadium in late 1994 with such lofty visions I had no idea of the meandering path ahead. but that day was special and was everything I had hoped. I lined up on the start line of my first senior athletics meet. Winner of the 1994 City to Surf Paul Arthur was there and for me that was awesome enough. Paul was at the peak of his powers and commanded respect by the nature of his performances. Three years earlier I had witnessed Paul place third in the Australian Cross Country championship behind Pat Carroll and Rob DeCastella. Paul would at later times advise to me in his own way. The most memorable was in the form of a question;

“Scotty do you get your race kit ready the night before? You need it do that. Get it ready, put it on, go and stand in front of the mirror and say “I’m going to run **?X#! fast tomorrow!”

My 5000m performance on that day was not spectacular but 12 months later I would follow Paul around to a new personal best of 14:41. For now, my first trip to Sydney Olympic Park has inspired me and locked in my vision. In the years that would follow the park and athletics centre would add to the tapestry of my athletic journey.

Whenever I am down at Sydney Olympic Park for work I will complete my day’s training before hand. Today I opted for a workout which can be done anywhere, anytime so long as you have an hour to spare. This session was championed by one of my heroes; Pat Carroll and involves  of 10 x 1min hard followed by 1min easy. Sydney Olympic Park’s “Brickpitt Trail” is the perfect location for such a workout being 1200m in length.