Governing Body for Padestrianism in Western Australia
The West Coast Athletics League (Inc.) is a non-profit organisation administered strictly through the efforts of volunteers. It has been established to organise and administer professional running events in Western Australia.
Professional running in Australia began in the gold-mining days and boomed in areas where miners were prospecting and digging for gold. The miners raced against each other for the gift of a gold nugget offered by the local publican or mine owner. The miners raced over various distances but the main race was run over the Sheffield distance of 130 yards. In the 1860’s big money began to creep into the sport which attracted a wealth of athletic talent. Competitions took on a carnival atmosphere and crowds flocked to see local champions. In April 1878, nearly two thousand people witnessed the running of the first Stawell Easter Gift in Victoria which was won by twenty-four year old farmer W.J.Millard.
The Botany Bay Gift was first held at Sir Joseph Banks Park in 1894, two years before the modern day Olympics, but was cancelled in the 1930s due to corruption before being revived by local business owners in the 1980s. “It had a real party atmosphere,” Botany Bay Historical Society president Anne Slattery said. “The most amazing people went there.”
Pro running (being handicapped races for prize money) has been the exclusive domain of the various state athletic leagues for over 130 years. Amateur athletics has not existed for that long, but for the time that it has, it has been the exclusive domain of the various state amateur associations.
In 1985, Athletics Australia reached agreement with the Australian Athletics Confederation (which is the national organisation whose members are the various state athletic leagues) for open athletics – that agreement was to relax the amateur rules to allow “pro” runners to run in amateur competitions. That agreement is also a recognition that pro running events are conducted exclusively by the state athletic leagues.
The West Coast Athletics League (Inc.) was established in 1987 after the ruling to allow amateurs to run with professionals was announced. Lawrence Frederick Fitzgerald was the inaugural President (Rolf Isak Stene – Vice President) with Douglas William Wenn as Executive Officer and Hugh ‘Bay’ Winning appointed inaugural handicapper. By the peak of the 1990’s WCAL held more than 12 professional meetings throughout the state including Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie, Yorke, Mandurah, Northam, Mullewa & Dardenup. As well as metropolitan races such as the Austin Robertson Gift, Kelmscott & Midland. And educational centre’s Mazanod College and Mandurah Senior High School.
By 2009, the WA professional circuit had withered away down to only 2 meetings in the state. And it was decided by the WCAL committee it would be best to hand over the administration and running of the professional events (for a trial period of 2 years) to the amateur body of athletics in Western Australia, Athletics WA. Unfortunately, by the end of 2011 Athletics WA decided they would not continue to organise the running of the professional events anymore.
With the news of this another WCAL board was formed in 2011 with former WA pro runner Paul Edmiston chairman and founding committee member Kevan Hook as secretary. Unfortunately and unexpectedly due to a vehicle accident Kevan passed away in late 2011. The reformed WCAL committee quickly grew the professional circuit again up to 8 meetings in 2013 and has continued organising the professional meetings in metropolitan and country areas ever since.
President – Dan Sammler.
Vice President – Catherine Zhoya.
Secretary – Vacant.
Treasurer – Vacant.
Committee Member – Tom Lenane.
Chief Handicapper – Leon Burckhardt.
Chief Steward –
Chief Starters – Tom Lenane & Catherine Zhoya.
Chief Marksman –
Hall of Fame – Matt Barber, Dean Capobianco, Paul Edmiston, Jason Gilich, Dr Shane Hearn, & Andrew McManus.
Life Members – Matt Barber, Wayne Barber, Paul Edmiston, Doug Wenn, Jim Wilson, Brian Woodward & Cameron Yorke.
Patron – Matt Barber.
2013/14 Ambassador – Ben Offereins & Chad Perris.
2014/15 Ambassador – Shannon McCann.
2017/18 Ambassador – Sarah Edmiston.
2018/19 Ambassador – Sarah Edmiston & Sasha Zhoya.