Stawell Gift key in Commonwealth Games proposal
MEGA GALLERY | Teens Matt Rizzo and Liv Ryan win 2017 Stawell Gift
By DEAN LAWSON
More than 135 years of successfully staging Australia’s richest professional footrace carnival in Stawell will provide critical leverage for Wimmera efforts to join a Victorian regional bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games.
That is the view of Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Tony Driscoll, who said the internationally-recognised Stawell Gift was a glowing example of Wimmera capabilities.
Cr Driscoll, shortly after watching an intense final day of action at Stawell’s Central Park, said he had no hesitation in saying the region had a role to play in the concept.
He said Stawell had the knowledge and facilities to stage Commonwealth sporting competition, especially some form of athletics, but could also seize the opportunity to create value-adding events for visiting athletes.
“It’s all about having the imagination to work in with developments,” he said.
“To pinch a famous quote, it’s not about asking why, but asking why not?”
Greater Shepparton City Council is leading the Commonwealth Games campaign, but has included only Warrnambool, Geelong, Mildura, Ballarat, Bendigo and Wodonga in initial plans.
Cr Driscoll agreed the grass surface at Central Park might be a stumbling block in securing a Commonwealth running competition at Stawell, but the idea might also have international appeal.
“There might be a sense of historic uniqueness that might be of promotional benefit, you just never know,” he said.
“While we have grass at Central Park, we also have back-up artificial running facilities at North Park.
“We are also talking about 2030, which is a fair way off. You can imagine the scenario with the evolution of facilities and services by then, especially when planning for a specific event or events.
“When it comes to transport the Western Highway would be fully duplicated to Stawell and there would be a reliable passenger rail service between Melbourne and Horsham.
“The region would be considerably more accessible to the public than it is today.”
Cr Driscoll stressed the chance to capitalise on a regionally based Commonwealth Games went well beyond the games themselves.
“Who’s to say we couldn’t schedule, for example, a major cycling event in the Grampians around the same time the athletes are in Australia?” he said.
“We’ve already seen how that can work in Halls Gap. Or perhaps we could pursue other events.”
Horsham councillor and Commonwealth Games rifle-shooting medalist Alethea Sedgman was also outspoken in her support for Wimmera involvement.
She said Horsham could, with relatively minor development, easily host smallbore, bigbore, shotgun and pistol shooting events.
“From my experience in Glasgow they basically had a tent set up with all the shooting activity around it,” she said.
“I can’t see why we couldn’t do that here.
“Competition involved what was almost a travelling community.
“It would be enormous for Horsham, which for a period of time could become the sporting shooting capital of Australia. It would be amazing and would do so much for us as a community and so much for the region.
“I’m confident we could do it with other sports as well. It would help put us on the map.”
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Posted on Apr 19 2017