By ADAM LUITJES

LOUISE Tarrant is off and running in her role as Sunraysia Academy of Sport executive officer.

The 56-year-old was appointed last month as the replacement for interim executive officer Susan Watts.

Along with engaging with key stakeholders, Louise’s role is to support SAS athletes and ensure they have access to the latest technologies, high performance programs and first-class facilities.

Having spent years working in various sports-related fields, Louise – who is the stepmother of former AFL player Chris Tarrant and current North Melbourne footballer Robbie – is more than qualified to oversee the development of the region’s aspiring athletes.

Along with being president of the Mildura Life Saving Club, Louise has a degree in sports psychology, is a qualified strength and conditioning coach, and has a certificate two in horse racing.

Her previous roles include working as an Active Communities Officer for Healthy Together Mildura, while she has also assisted homeless youths through the Goulburn Housing Accommodation Program.

A dedicated sportswoman from a young age, Louise’s sporting achievements include winning a Master’s gold medal in the 100 metre sprint.

Passionate about helping budding young athletes reach their full potential, Louise said there were a number of reasons why she was drawn to the role.

“My age group was brought up with that tyranny of distance and isolation in  Mildura,” Louise said. “We weren’t seen or viewed with respect or high regard, and it was so far to travel back then and have support.

“I found this role was perfect for me because it gives me the opportunity to help aspiring young athletes to be the best they can be in their chosen sport.”

Introduced in 2005, the SAS caters for individual athletes, while it also includes nine sports programs covering athletics, hockey and golf.

One of seven academies that feed into the Victorian Institute of Sport, Louise believes the SAS plays a pivotal role in the region.

“You are always going to have your good athletes, very good athletes and elite athletes,” she said. “The elite is very different, and you have to be able to support those athletes who have got that ability.

“They are probably the ones that rock up early to training, are the last to leave and ask questions.

“They do what they are told by the coaches, where a good athlete might just rock up on time, so there are those different categories.”

Currently catering for 60 athletes, Louise said all SAS members should be striving to compete at the highest level.

“They are in the program because they are high achievers, and they want to be the best, not just at local level,” she said.

“Competing at State and national level is the definition of elite.”