ORGANISERS of the popular Surf ‘T’ Surf fun run have awarded $3500 in grants to seven high-achieving athletes in the region.
The grants, awarded in partnership with South West Sport, recognise the costs athletes face to compete in their chosen sport at the highest level.
Recipients must have had some involvement with the Surf ‘T’ Surf in January and compete at a national or international level to be eligible.
Warrnambool triathletes James Nevill and Natacia Varley met the criteria, having competed at the 2014 School Sport Australia championships at Bendigo.
Other recipients included Warrnambool surf lifesaver Matt Hardiman, a member of the Victorian squad at the Southern States Challenge in Hobart.
Rudy’s Boxing star Bianca Slater represented Victoria at the 2014 national championships in Perth, where she won a silver medal.
Amber Dowd, a Warrnambool BMX Club member, collected two plates in the 10 years girls’ category at the 2014 national championships at Shepparton.
Hockey players Cameron Jarry and Anna Dyson pulled on the Victorian uniform at national country and masters’ championships respectively in 2013.
Surf ‘T’ Surf race director Jason Chuck said the grants were a way organisers could acknowledge the achievements of people involved with the fun run.
“The intent of the race has always been focused on raising money for grassroots sport in the south-west,” he said.
“Historically that’s been done through various sporting clubs that are involved in both the organisation and then the running of the event on the day.
“As the revenue has grown, the logical extension was to recognise individuals who could benefit from financial assistance to continue their sporting pursuits.
“We’ve been really pleased to be able to contribute to grassroots sport in this way. It’s certainly something we’re hoping to continue.”
Chuck hoped the grants program could grow in future years. But he said the popularity of the fun run would determine how much money organisers could offer.
“We’ve obviously got limitations in terms of the cost base the race operates under but we’re keen to see it grow,” he said.
“If we can keep attracting the same number of sponsors and participants, there’s no reason it won’t grow in the future.”
Surf ‘T’ Surf organisers are in the final stages of confirming the date for the 2015 edition, with the hunt for sponsors to start in coming weeks.