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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Teens’ sporting chances dashed

Charlie Hawke, Leroy Reid and Michael Walker are names you might not be familiar with now, but the trio are in the running to achieve great sporting success, once life gets back on track.

What should have been a year in which they achieved sporting recognition has instead seen all school sporting pathways come to a shuddering halt thanks to COVID-19.

The boys represent a myriad of students who have had their sporting dreams crushed in 2020.

For Charlie Hawke, this year offered the talented swimmer a chance to compete in School Sport Australia events.

The St Francis Xavier‘s final year student competed in several events in 2019, collecting medals at the NSW Combined Catholic College, NSW All Schools and School Sport Australia Championships.

This year, Charlie was hoping to compete in Australian Swimming Championships, representing Australia at the now cancelled Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii.

Sadly, School Sport Australia cancelled all of its events for 2020 in March, with its president Graeme Jennings saying the safety and welfare of all those involved in its championships as “paramount”.

St Francis Xavier’s final year student Charlie Hawke.

The Department of Education soon followed suit.

The disappointment filtered down to students, whose sports were yet to have their school, regional and district trials.

For Leroy Reid, a talented athlete from St Francis Xavier’s College in Hamilton, the disappointment comes with a silver lining.

The Australian All Schools Champion sprinter and long-jumper had already been officially recognised for leading in his field before COVID-19 struck.

Leroy had been training at the NSW Target Talent Program at Sydney Olympic Park with selectors already considering him for the U20s training squad for the World Junior Athletics Championships.

He is hopeful this event will be moved to 2021.

Although an injury is never welcome, for St Pius X Adamstown student Michael Walker, it means the sting has been taken out of COVID-19 cancellations.

After an injury took the basketballer off the court in January, he has now been allowed extra time to concentrate on rehabilitation without any immediate pressure to return.

Despite missing out on being a part of the 2020 U16 Australian team travel to Bulgaria and representing the NSW Country U18 team in Ballarat, Michael is back training and looking forward to trialling for the NSW U20 team in 2021.

Sport Coordinator at San Clemente, Mayfield, Steve Burns says many students are struggling to find a release away from the stresses of COVID-19.

“The past five months have really highlighted to me just how important sporting opportunities are at a school level,” Steve said.

“Not just the physical health of our students, but also their emotional wellbeing and mental health.

“I have had a consistent stream of students asking which sporting events are still on and when sporting events that have been postponed will be back up and running.

“In general, our students are very proud to represent our school community at our diocesan events and I know their participation in these events will be met with overwhelming excitement once they are back up and running as normal.”

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