Mildura and District Little Athletics club sisters Isla, nine, and Skye, 15, French.
PICTURE: PAUL MENSCH

CELEBRATIONS were reminiscent of crossing the finish line first for Mildura and District Little Athletics (MDLA) this week.

The Sunraysia centre was recognised as the South Australian Little Athletics Association (SALAA) country club of the year. Despite being in different states, Mildura is aligned with South Australia.

The only thing that could be better for MDLA is a brand new synthetic track, something they are planning. This would put the Mildura centre right alongside their metro counterparts.

MDLA secretary, Kara Hopkins, said the award for the centre came as such a surprise that no one in the club realised they were nominated.

“A few of us took part in a Zoom meeting with SALAA over the weekend when we found out,” she said. “Being nominated was nice but to actually win was something we weren’t expecting.

“Our long time president Steve Erlandsen has certainly made a massive contribution over the years and he has been the main man. SALAA is certainly aware of his contribution.

“Without children and parents, and without a hardworking committee, we don’t have a club.

“Something that was a big pat on the back for us was the fact we finished last season with 211 athletes. We do so much on our social media channels and in schools as well.”

Kara said the addition of a synthetic track has been a long time dream for MDLA, however, the club is only in the early stages of exploring their options on that front.

“It’s a lot of money that would go into developing the track not only for the installation, but to resurface it every 10 years,” she said.

“As a club we don’t have those kind of funds so we’re developing a plan of how to go about it.”

Athletics is traditionally a summer sport in Sunraysia and hasn’t been directly affected by COVID-19 restrictions so far. The club, however, are not resting on their laurels.

“Given the fact that COVID 19 is around, there is so much more going into our planning for the new season,” Kara said.