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Westfields takes on the world
Gallery: Westfields Sports High School’s famous former students
Westfields Sports High School athletics program director Dan Suchy gives young athletics hopefuls Marcos Pedro Alcantara and Andrew Neville some tips.                           Picture: NICK ANDREAN

by Melissa Matheson

DAN Suchy can almost help students run faster than a speeding bullet, become more powerful than a locomotive and leap tall hurdles in a single bound.

Suchy is the athletics director at Westfields Sports High School.

“I’ve been in charge of athletics here for 35 years. Wild horses wouldn’t drag me out of here,” he said. “I just started as a teacher and I developed an interest in athletics only because a couple of kids came up to me and said, ‘I need you to give me a bit of help with the hurdles’.

“I looked after the athletics from that moment on but we didn’t have a club until we became a sports school in 1991.”

There are now 105 members of the club and four former
students have booked their seats on the plane to Delhi, India for the Commonwealth Games in October

Dani Samuels will compete in the discus, Fabrice Lapierre is ready for the long jump, new mum Hayley Butler will line up in the hurdles and Karyne di Marco will compete in the hammer throw.

Another three students are still a chance of making the games - hurdler Daniel Small, javelin thrower Matthew Outzen and hammer thrower Mark Dickson.

Suchy said he is re-assessing the goals now that the school boasts two world champions in Samuels and Lapierre.

“Obviously to get an Olympic gold medal, which we’ve never had,” he said.

“You can work your whole life and never get an Olympic medal. It is the toughest thing to do.

“After that, just to continue to provide a service for these kids.”

One big factor Suchy wants to change is the attitude towards athletics.

He said most Australian spectators are only interested in the sport around the Olympic Games.

“Unless you’re the 100m champion they don’t care,” he said. “We’re hoping someone like Dani is going to change that mould.

“One of the things I find really interesting is the sports kids have raised the bar in academics.

“If you’re a talented sports person you have limited time, so when they get homework or an assignment, they do it as soon as they get home.”

Suchy always has his eye out for the next big star.

“I love the underdog, the kid that has worked so hard to come from nowhere or behind and manages to come near that top level,” he said.

“What we look for when we select the kids is potential.

“It’s the Westfields family, it is a home away from home, it is an extension of their home.”

THE ``wall of fame’’ at Westfields Sports High School reads like a who’s who of Australian sports stars.

Soccer player Harry Kewell was one of the first sports students to be accepted at the school.

Last August, discus-thrower Dani Samuels became the sixth Australian to win an athletics World Championships title.

At 21, she threw a personal best 65.44m in Berlin, also becoming the youngest discus world champion.

Fabrice Lapierre won a sports scholarship to Texas A&M;University when he was just 19 years old. He jumped 8.78m to claim the national long jump title last month.

Smithfield mum Hayley Butler has earned herself a spot in the Commonwealth Games team, less than two years after giving birth to son Cooper.

There are 21 former students, including Jarryd Hayne, currently playing in the NRL, and three members of the Matildas Australia women’s football team.

And underneath the baggy green of the vice-captain of the Australian Test cricket side is former student Michael Clarke.

With thanks

7th May 2010


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