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Bunbury Little Athletics celebrates 50 years with Busselton-born pole vault star Nina Kennedy

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenSouth Western Times
Nina Kennedy with the Bunbury Little Athletics kids and president Paul Lever.
Camera IconNina Kennedy with the Bunbury Little Athletics kids and president Paul Lever. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

As Bunbury Little Athletics celebrated its 50th year, a Busselton-born pole vaulting star ventured in to town for a special guest appearance.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nina Kennedy made a surprise appearance during the Bunbury Little Athletics’ nitro-athletics event on Saturday, March 11, as the club celebrated 50 years.

The 25-year-old answered fan questions and gave insight into what it is like training and competing at an elite level before athletes were split into teams for the nitro-athletics event, which included sprints, relays, javelin throwing and long jump.

Kennedy told the South Western Times said she was impressed by the turnout at the event as well as the quality of the facilities.

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“I’ve never been to the Bunbury track and obviously the day is pretty special,” she said.

“It’s really nice to see the club doing something different and fun to get engagement and it’s really cool to see.”

Pole vault champion Nina Kennedy took fan questions during a special guest appearance at Bunbury Little Athletics' 50th anniversary carnival.
Camera IconPole vault champion Nina Kennedy took fan questions during a special guest appearance at Bunbury Little Athletics' 50th anniversary carnival. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

As a Coles Little Athletics ambassador, Kennedy has been visiting various Little Athletics clubs around Australia helping to promote healthy eating and exercise.

“I think I’ve been to 10 Little Athletics clubs this season so to visit them and see the kids and see what else is out there is really cool,” she said. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to work such a great sponsor.

“It’s pretty special to see the community engagement as this sport is all run by volunteers and parents and it’s a really special sport to be involved in.

“I think especially in the regional towns, it’s dominated by the more popular sports like AFL, hockey and netball so to see really good participation in Bunbury is really special.

“Athletics and swimming are the two most watched sports during the Olympics but not many people really take part in it in Australia so to increase participation and knowledge about the sports is really special.”

Inaugural Bunbury Little Athletics chairman Philip Smith and current president Paul Lever.
Camera IconInaugural Bunbury Little Athletics chairman Philip Smith and current president Paul Lever. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

Bunbury Little Athletics president Paul Lever said while the club’s 50th anniversary actually took place two years ago, the club was finally able to celebrate on its redeveloped track at the South West Sports Centre.

“The facility we’ve got is absolutely fantastic and it’s just a wonderful thing for the kids to be able to use a facility that we’re very lucky to have in Bunbury,” he said.

“In terms of the club, it’s lovely to celebrate 50 years because there’s a lot of clubs, particularly in Little Athletics, that have struggled and only managed five, 10 or 15 years before folding.

“To have been around as long as we have is certainly a testament to previous committees and certainly the one that we’ve got is working hard to make sure it stays that way.”

Mr Lever said having Kennedy appear was wonderful, giving the kids someone to look up to, and to be able to interact and relate with them.

“For them to actually have someone they can relate to and then in six months time see them on the TV, it’s just something wonderful for the kids,” he said.

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