Latrobe Carnival 2004

One to watch: Hobart’s Ryan Foster…is an emerging talent on the track.(1/2)For much of their hundred-plus years the carnivals were quite different to what they are now. They were very much a male only affair, at least from the competitor point of view.
Nanjing Night Net

When Bevan Robinson made his vow upon winning the Latrobe Wheel in 1954 to return 50 years later, I doubt that he would have expected to see women playing the on track roles they do know.

I doubt he would also have expected to see Olympians or budding Australian representatives using the carnivals as a stage to show their abilities to the general public.

But what Robinson and his family will see at the carnivals series of 2004-05 will be a very happy and successful mix of the new and the old.

He will no doubt be delighted to see that the wheelrace is conducted essentially in the same style as it was when he rode to victory.

At a time when nostalgia is booming, Tasmanians can be proud that traditions like our carnivals have survived the very test of time.

Being able to list 100 wheel or gift winners is a testament to the efforts and commitment of those volunteers who have made and continue to make the contributions which ensure these special events live on.

The carnivals would perhaps not have survived had appropriate changes not been made. The abolition of the old amateur-pro eligibility for cyclists and athletes has surely been the most dramatic.

But the globalisation which has enabled the likes of Japanese cyclist, Koji Yoshi and his mates, American Olympian Jame Carney and his band, and Nigerian sprinter Ambrose Ezenwa to participate on a regular basis, has done its bit to expand the carnivals’ scope.

One other thing that has changed, albeit very recently, is that the Latrobe Gift is now the equal of its previously more revered counterpart at Burnie.

It has taken a little time, but the rise in prizemoney and the increased stature of the Tasmanian carnivals on the national scene, has seen a significant lift in the number of local and interstate athletes targeting the Boxing Day event.

The carnival series has played a significant role in the development of the North-West Coast of Tasmania as a nursery for emerging women sprinters at a national level.

Now suddenly it is the mile race at Latrobe, which has attracted competitor interest. I suspect, as a result, it may well be the best race on today’s programme, either on the grass or the cycling track.

Watch out for one of Tasmania’s most exciting young talents, Ryan Foster, fresh from two victories at the recent Australian age championships in Sydney.

His steady, building loping style should be especially effective in handicap racing.

Yes, as it has done for more than a century, Latrobe should once again provide the stage for the public emergence of one of our most promising.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.