Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

North east athletes bound for Tri State Games

Eight athletes from Benalla, Wangaratta and Mansfield will travel to South Australia in November to compete in a competition for people with disabilities.

MONIQUE FREER July 11, 2014 3:47am

Yooralla athletes Prudence Burgess, Joel Lotherington, support worker Brady Webster, athlete Emily Reynolds, support worker Katherine Murphy and athletes Steven Lyons and Jenny McLeod began training for the Tri State Games last week.

A group of athletes has begun training for an annual sports competition designed to raise awareness and improve inclusion for people with disabilities.

Eight athletes from Benalla, Wangaratta and Mansfield are preparing to travel to South Australia in November to compete in the Tri State Games.

The annual event is Australia’s largest grass-roots sporting event for people with a disability and attracts about 300 competitors each year.

In no doubt that she would win all her events, athlete Emily Reynolds said she was most excited about catching up with people.

‘‘I’ve been once before ... I love the swiming, athletics and bowling,’’ she said.

The Yooralla Cannons team will be supported by team managers Suzanne Green and Graeme Brennan.

‘‘It’s really great (for them) to participate with a larger group of people,’’ Ms Green said.

‘‘For some of the group it’s about getting away and trying something new.’’

The athletes are selected through time trials at the start of each year; three are making their debut while the other five are competition veterans.

Jenny McLeod has been competing since 1995 and joked that she’d been to the games ‘‘about 57 times’’.

‘‘It’s so good to catch up with all your friends and socialise,’’ she said.

The Tri State Games began in 1986 in Mildura when staff and clients at the Christie Centre invited other centres to enjoy a week of fun competition and socialising. Benalla hosted the games in 1996 and 1997.

Events include tenpin bowling, athletics, swimming and indoor sports such as billiards and the bean bag toss.

The competition is held over five days, including an official opening ceremony and social events each night.

‘‘It’s basically to have fun and meet up with others,’’ Graeme Brennan said.

‘‘It’s like one big party for them.’’

Last week was the first day of official training, although the athletes have been practising their events during Yooralla’s regular programs.

The cost per athlete is between $2000 and $2500 and Ms Green said they had been fundraising to reduce the costs for the clients and families.

‘‘The more we fundraise, the less the clients have to pay for,’’ she said.

Sponsorship and donations are welcome; for more information phone Jackie Brenann on 57629000.

The games will be held from November 9 to 14 in Murray Bridge, South Australia.

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