Inspired to walk the walk

Posted: 1pm 03 Aug 2021

The next generation of athletes are already on track to give it their all, inspired by their heroes in Tokyo and with a dream of representing their country at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games.

Race walking coach Shane Pearson was at Redcliffe Little Athletics track (before lockdown), taking athletes through their paces as Queensland Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath watched on.

He runs a weekly training session there and at Arana Hills and has plans to offer specialist coaching at Caboolture.

Demand is growing as youngsters watch their heroes proudly competing in the green and gold in Tokyo.

He’s training race walkers, who could follow in the steps of Redcliffe-born athlete Dane Bird-Smith to an Olympic Games - maybe even the Brisbane 2032 Games.

“They’re all saying they’re looking at 2032. They want to be there,” Pearson says.

He has been involved in race walking since he was 11 years old, even racing against Dane’s father and coach Dave at the back end of his career.

“I was 17-years-old and that was the start of my career. I looked up at Dave at the time. He’s done a lot for the sport,” Pearson says.

Pearson loves athletics and particularly the physically and mentally challenging race walk.

During winter he typically has about 20 young athletes in his squad and this doubles in the summer months. These children are usually at state level competition and many are in Australian development teams.

Skills transfer to other sports, life

Pearson says the variety on offer in athletics gives children the opportunity to learn how to run properly, and more efficiently, and improve cardio fitness. They also learn to jump and throw.

These skills and the fitness gained through training can then transfer to winter sports.

“If you can learn to run properly, you can use that in any sport,” he says.

“Friendships are lasting. I’m still friends with kids I did Little Athletics with.”

As for race walking, it takes endurance of a marathon runner, supreme fitness and core strength, the leg speed of a sprinter, and technical ability to do it well.

“Anyone can learn to walk. I think it’s a great event, very challenging event, it’s the best event of all because it has that cross reference to other sports,” Pearson says

“Little As is an amazing product. It’s a great place to start. Most sporting people at an elite level have some link to Little As.”

Get involved

Children keen to get a start in athletics and race walking should sign up to their local Little Athletics centre. Pearson said racewalking was a specialised event and children should have a go at the other events on offer in athletics before specialising in just one.

There are centres across the region. To find your nearest visit the website

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