As many as 500 primary students aged eight to 13 from across the region competed in the Far North Coast Zone Primary School Sports Association Athletics Championships held at the Byron’s Cavanbah Centre last week.
Schools from as far north as Tweed Heads to Evans River in the south were in attendance, carnival convener and Goonengerry School principal Tracey Barnes said.
Young athletes competed in a full range of events including high jump, long jump, sprints and distance runs as well as discus.
Plenty of parents and siblings were also attended to the event, soaking up the carnival atmosphere and excitement.
Athletics is taught and encouraged as part of the regular sport and physical education programs within all schools and their success was dependent on the enthusiasm of teachers and students, Tracey said.
The carnival coincided with the Olympics and, while this gave the competitors some focus, it was just one motivator for the children.
‘As soon as medals and ribbons are involved kids really get into it.’ Tracey said.
‘I have still got my blue ribbons from school,’ she said.
The first four athletes in track events and the first three in field events progress to the FNC Zone team and will compete at the regional carnival to be held at Coffs Harbour on September 3.
‘Students at this level have progressed through school and district qualifying carnivals to be eligible to compete,’ Tracey said.
If successfuly at this level the young athletes can then head down to the state carnival in Sydney later in the year.