THE rain threatened to spoil the fun for the Bathurst Athletics Club's first meeting of the new season but members were still able to enjoy a modified set of activities on Monday afternoon.
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Throwing events weren't able to go ahead in the damp conditions but the grass dried out just enough for all track events were still able to take place as originally scheduled.
The weather may not have been great for the start of the season but the club's strong numbers for 2022-23 is certainly a brighter spot, with 200-plus registrations being one of the biggest turnouts in several years.
The close call with the weather also puts the spotlight back on the club's bid to see a new purpose-built athletics facility in the city, which remains an ongoing discussions with Bathurst Regional Council.
Bathurst Athletics Club president Mike Curtin said it was great to see everyone up and about after a miserable run of weather leading up to the night.
"After the rain on the weekend it was a surprise that we were able to get anything going," he said.
"We were able to go ahead with track and some of the pit jumping and high jumping, but we didn't want the implements like discus and shot put landing in the grass, so we did without that.
"Being able to get a club night in was still fantastic. The important thing was getting kids out there and getting them started."
Curtin puts the strong registration numbers down to both a lack of COVID-19 interruptions this year and recent publicity for Australia's great performances at the sport's major international events."
"Last year we didn't start until mid to late November, and the previous year was similar," he said.
"We've had a Commonwealth Games this year and last year we had an Olympic Games, and track and field is front and centre of those two events. That's certainly gone a long way towards keeping it at the forefront of people's minds.
"It's fantastic to see track and field doing well in Australia. I think that we're having a bit of a renaissance there, and I think part of that is because we have it as part of our curriculum from K-12.
"A lot of the kids from last night will be competing in the NSW PSSA carnival next week, which is part of the school pathway, and little athletics is seen as an opportunity to further those skills."
Bathurst Athletics Club's petition to council for a purpose-built facility gained just shy of 900 signatures and has seen discussions progress between the two parties.
Funding and an appropriate space are now the two major factors that need to be fulfilled before any further developments are made.
With a plot that likely needs to be a 200 x 200 metre size - at a minimum - there's a challenge to finding a suitable place for a facility.
"We've had positive discussions with a number of councillors and some senior management at council, and they've been looking long and hard at possible venues," Curtin said.
"The starting place for us is starting with a venue with good quality grass that's a little more compact than what we've got at Morse Park. Obviously fencing an amenities are very important because that's what we don't currently have.
"Council has seen that this is a facility that Bathurst does lack. It's something we're getting left behind in because Dubbo's got their track, Orange gets theirs next year and Western Sydney has plenty of tracks.
"All that's been decided on is that it needs to be in town somewhere, it can't be a greenfields site out of town, and it can't be somewhere that's flood prone. If you put the synthetic track down then you can't have water over it because that affects the integrity of the venue."
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