Promising West Australian athletes pitting their hopes on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have won the support of PlusLife, WA’s bone and tissue bank.
PlusLife has agreed to sponsor the PlusLife Target Tokyo 2020 Squad in an effort to promote its work, while increasing the potential number of West Australian-based athletes selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Track and Field Teams.
The squad will target 15 emerging (AA under 19 Talent Squad) athletes and WA senior athletes (aged 20-plus) who fall above the Athletics Australia Target Talent Program and below WA Institute of Sport/National Athlete Support Structure program scholarships.
It comes after two reviews identified that the area was in need of immediate attention due to a lack of support in recent years.
PlusLife Managing Director Anne Cowie said the bone and tissue bank was happy to back home-grown talents in their pursuit to become the best athletes they could be.
“PlusLife is proud to support some of our state’s brightest, up-and-coming track and field athletes in their endeavours to realise their Olympic dreams,” Mrs Cowie said.
“The promotion of organ and tissue donation is a major part of the remit of PlusLife and what better way for us to do that than engage with fit, young individuals such as the athletes in this squad.
“We are very pleased to support this gifted group of athletes and, in particular, to have Marc See and Matt Felton work with us for PlusLife and our cause.”
Last year, Marc See became the first West Australian to run a sub four-minute mile in WA in more than half a century – second only to the great Herb Elliott.
The 27-year-old Scarborough runner clocked a time of 3:58.61 at the WA Athletics Stadium, marking the first time a local has managed the feat in Perth since Elliott’s achievement at Leederville Oval in 1958.
See’s athletic career started in early high school when he finished fourth place in the State All Schools Cross Country at age 13. Since then, he has taken out seven open state titles and represented at a national level for the past 15 years. His under-16 2000m steeplechase state record from 2004 still stands.
He said his profession as a physiotherapist at Front Runner Sports in West Perth had great synergy with his running career.
“I work mainly with recreational runners. I get to help people wanting to chase their dreams –anything from being able to run for three minutes without stopping to doing a full Ironman,” he said.
See said he was happy to help spread the word about the important work of PlusLife.
“PlusLife is a great organisation that serves a little-known area most people assume is already covered by current organ donors,” he said.
“I was surprised to learn bone, tendons and ligaments are not covered under what most people consider when talking about organ donations after their own passing.
“These useful tissues can be put to use in surgeries that greatly assist others.”
Paralympic hopeful and marathon runner Matthew Felton, 26, said he had been lifted by recent successes, including qualifying for the International Paralymic Committee Marathon World Cup in London in April 2017 and breaking a national and oceanic record at the Australian Marathon Championships in 2016.
Felton, who has Erbs palsy, said he started running in the off-season from playing soccer and golf and enjoyed it so much that he competed in ultramarathons over 50km.
“After some research I teamed up with my coach Raf Baugh at Front Runner who has taken my performances to the next level and I’ve been buoyed by this trajectory,” he said.
Felton, from East Perth, said he had been inspired by several athletes, including tennis great Roger Federer and New Zealander Sir Murray Halberg.
“I look to many different role models, not necessarily all in athletics – Roger Federer for his demeanour on and off the court…and Sir Murray Halberg who won the able-bodied 5km in the 1960 Olympics with a similar level of disability to mine.”
Felton said his attention was keenly trained on the IAAF and IPC 2017 World Championships in London this year, as well as being a PlusLife ambassador.
“I’m proud to be an ambassador for PlusLife – a cause that is without question one many people and their families benefit from. I am happy to do anything I can to support further awareness of this great cause,” he said.
Athletics WA High Performance Manager Mel Tantrum said the support of PlusLife was invaluable.
“Their partner support of the program may be the difference in some of our athletes making that improvement they need to be in Tokyo,” she said.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443