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Whitebridge High trio set for 2023 International Children’s Games

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When he was younger, Year 9 student Hamish Ihle dreamt of swimming for his country, as fast as his idol Ian Thorpe. 

Next month that vision will be a step closer when he joins fellow Whitebridge High School students Lucy Barnes and Tahlia Smith at the 2023 International Children’s Games in South Korea. 

The trio is competing as part of a contingent of Lake Macquarie athletes chosen to represent the region. 

Swimmer Ihle, long distance runner Barnes and shot putter Smith will travel to the city of Daegu for five days of competition against some of the best young athletes in the world.  

For the former, the trip is a chance to fulfil his goal of competing on the world stage.  

“When I was younger, I used to love watching his (Thorpe’s) races on YouTube,” Hamish says.  

“I’ll be swimming six events while I’m over there, including two relays.  

“My best chance for a medal is probably either the 50-metre freestyle or one of the relays.”  

Hamish trains six days a week at Charlestown Swim Centre and earlier this year won the 2.5km open water swim at the Sydney Regatta.  

He also competes with Redhead Surf Life Saving Club.  

Year 7 student Smith is the youngest of the Lake Macquarie contingent heading to South Korea. 

The 12-year-old emerging track and field star is a talented young thrower, with a personal best of 7.7m in the shot put.  

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people,” Tahlia says. 

“I’ve never been overseas before, so I’m just hoping to enjoy the experience and do my best.” 

Runner Barnes will compete in the 800m and is hoping for a mid-field finish in her race.  

The Year 8 student has been competing in Little Athletics since under 7s with the Eastlakes club.  

“I’m probably best at the longer distances, either 800 metres or the 1500 metres,” Lucy said.  

“I’d be pretty happy with a mid-pack finish.”  

The youngster trains three to four days a week in a gruelling regime that includes four 200m sprints, four 400m sprints and an 800m run.  

Whitebridge High School principal Nadene Harvey said the three students were outstanding ambassadors for their school, as well as the broader Lake Macquarie community.  

“At Whitebridge High we’re always proud of the achievements of our students,” she explained.

“We encourage them to take on new and exciting challenges and put themselves out there, and Hamish, Lacy and Tahlia are doing just that.  

“This is not just a great opportunity for them through sport, but it’s a great life opportunity as well and hopefully it will inspire other students to do similar things.”  

The 55th International Children’s Games will run across five days from 5-10 July.  

Athletes compete in events including athletics, swimming, tennis and volleyball.  

The International Children’s Games were founded in 1968 in Celje, Slovenia, to “enable, develop, and advance the meeting, understanding and friendship of students from different countries and promote the Olympic ideal”.  

It brings together an alliance of cities and individuals from around the globe who have a common goal of forming friendships and peace through sport.  

Lake Macquarie was the first city in the southern hemisphere to host the games, winning the bid in 2010 to host the 48th Summer International Children’s Games in December 2014. 

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