Former sprint champ keen to unearth talent

Gerrard Keating will hold a free come and try sprint clinic in Rockhampton on Friday. Allan Reinikka ROK300616acoach1

GERRARD Keating can't help but get frustrated when he hears regional athletes claim they can't achieve the same success as their city counterparts because of where they come from.

"When I hear that excuse I tell people to Google Usain Bolt and see where he trains and what he trains on," the former Australian sprint champion says.

"The reality is that success is not about where you're from; if you have that desire and that want you can achieve at the highest level."

And Keating should know.

A champion junior sprinter from the city of Ballarat in Victoria he went on to become Australia's 100m record holder and champion from 1985 to 1994 and made the 100m final at two Commonwealth Games (1982 and 1986).

On his retirement from running, Keating moved into coaching. He has worked with the Queensland Academy of Sport and as the sprints coach for Vietnam in 2012 and 2013. He has coached athletes to state and national championships as well as to victory in the prestigious Stawell Gift.

Now he wants to share his expertise with the up-and-coming athletes of Rockhampton.

Keating will hold a free coaching clinic on Friday, with a view to establishing a training academy for athletes aged 12 to 17 who are achieving state level semi-final standard or better.

"This is my absolute passion. I've worked with and been a part of grass roots athletics all the way through to international level and everywhere in between," he said.

"What really drives me is I want athletes to experience what I experienced. It's a great ride.

"Athletics is tough; you can't shy away from that. Sprinting and middle-distance running are the two hardest areas to have success in.

"But I'm looking to focus my energies on those athletes who have achieved a certain level and want to get to the next level."

Keating has just recently started working with Vector Health, and he says it is his holistic approach to athletes' preparation that has seen him achieve so much success in his coaching career.

He has been to Rockhampton previously through his work with Little Athletics Queensland and knows it boasts a wealth of young talent.

He wants to help that talent progress and develop, and he stresses that he is not here to "steal" athletes from existing coaching squads.

"I'm not here to snap up all the top-level athletes; that's not me and it never has been.

"What I'm planning is geared towards kids who mightn't have coaches but who are achieving in the school system and looking to go further."

And he is hopeful that a future champion will emerge.

"I would like to think with this being an Olympic year that there's a 16-year-old athlete who might not know it now but who could be competing in 2020," Keating said.

"I was 19 when I went to my first Commonwealth Games. Four years before that that was the furthest thing from my mind.

"I was in Year 10 at Ballarat and four years later I was running against Olympic champions and superstars that I idolised.

"I always say nothing's impossible. If you have a dream and you're prepared to work hard you can achieve it."


The Gerrard Keating-run come and try sprint clinic will be held from 9am to 1pm on Friday at Victoria Park. It is free. Register on the Vector Health website

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