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Hot issue: Why we need a synthetic track

SERIOUS MATTER: Highly regarded athletics coach Stacey Taurima is lobbying for a synthetic track to be built in an important growth area like Springfield.
SERIOUS MATTER: Highly regarded athletics coach Stacey Taurima is lobbying for a synthetic track to be built in an important growth area like Springfield. David Nielsen

HAVING seen what other countries provide their elite athletes for training, Stacey Taurima is frustrated how southeast Queensland has been neglected.

The Springfield coach concedes his time is best spent helping the next generation of athletes achieve their goals rather than fighting for a new synthetic track.

However, he's not giving up on his vision to provide better facilities for his athletes.

Having lived in Springfield for four years, Taurima sees the rapidly growing area as an ideal location for a high performance surface that is desperately needed.

Although the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre at Nathan is a quality facility that he uses for training, Taurima said its availability was limited.

"So when we have one state athletics facility which is always booked, the usage on that is huge,'' he said.

Taurima said another challenge was that other synthetic tracks around southeast Queensland were embedded in schools and not open for public use.

Regular weekend athletics competitions at QSAC exacerbate the problem.

"With elite athletes, some of them have to train through certain windows, so if there's an athletics meet on - like on Saturdays when it's always booked - you have no alternative,'' he said.

"It's very fickle when you structure these training programs.''

Asked how he deals with that, Taurima said: "We've got to get creative with the program.

"It's not ideal but we may have to train midweek and have a rest day on the comp day. There's no real flow on the program.''

That is particularly difficult with Taurima preparing nine athletes in his Rogue Performance squad for the 2018 Commonwealth Games trials.

"We program around facility bookings not around what the athletes need,'' he said.

"We're forever juggling our programs.''

On a recent trip to Taiwan for the World University Games, Taurima gained a timely reminder about how the Brisbane-Ipswich area was lagging behind in its athletic facilities.

"We were flying into Taipei and I was looking out the window,'' he said.

"There is a track in every single school . . . and this is Taipei.

"In Brisbane, we've got one and we've got to share it with everyone.''

Taurima said another synthetic track needed to be "something more local''.

"Springfield is a suburb that's going to be developed,'' he said.

Brisbane-bred Taurima was surprised Bill Paterson Oval in Ipswich's inner heart had not been upgraded with a synthetic track. It has been an Ipswich venue discussed in the past.

That issue aside, Taurima would prefer to see a publicly available synthetic -  rather than another grass track - included in future development plans at Springfield.

The forward-thinking coach hoped a synthetic track touted for the possible arrival of the Brisbane Lions AFL club could accommodate athletes.

 "The real push needs to try and get a synthetic one in there,'' he said.

"My athletes would train out of there and there would also be the University (USQ). They could start growing a high performance sport.

"To be honest, I think that's the way the world's going to lead. Universities are going to take up the high performance and also the academies.''

What do you think?

Share your views on the need for a synthetic athletics track in Ipswich?

How would it help the community? Where should it be located? Who should finance it - government or developers?

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Topics:  brisbane lions ipswich athletics