they come from vastly different backgrounds, but four Weeroona College students have been united in their new-found love for athletics.
Under a scholarship program between their school and the Bendigo Harriers Athletics Club – Iliesa Sevudredre, his older brother Leone, Karly Mitchell and Spain Ndikumana are taking big strides on the track and field.
The students were identified by the college as having the interest and ability worthy of the athletics scholarship – a program which has been running for almost a decade, with all students’ athletics fees paid by the college.
Harriers’ Ivan Kitt said the students were a bit shy at first, but have taken to their new club quickly considering the three boys have only been involved since November.
“It’s amazing how well they’re fitting in, they’re running around and enjoying themselves,” Kitt said.
Iliesa, 14, and his 16-year-old brother, Leone are from Fiji and have excelled over short distances with the Harriers.
Leone’s personal best in his pet event – the 100m – is 11.2 seconds, with his speed coming in handy for his favourite sport – rugby. He also runs the 200m, as well as competing in the high and long jumps.
The Sevudredre brothers, and Spain, receive specialised coaching from the likes of Neil MacDonald, Brett Gilligan and John Burke at the Harriers.
“It’s really good for me, it’s helped me improve and to run faster,” Iliesa said.
Spain, a 14-year-old from Burundi in Africa, is equally comfortable sprinting across 100m or stretching out in 800m races.
Karly Mitchell is in her second year of the scholarship and trains under the watchful eye of experienced throwing coach Frank Barr.
The 14-year-old specialises in the hammer, but also competes in the shot put, discus and javelin.
“I took it up just through school, it’s really good,” she said.
Mitchell has thrown the hammer 37m in only six months in the sport, “showing a lot of improvement”, Kitt said.
A fifth Weeroona College student, talented soccer player Kevin Wani, has also received the scholarship, which is overseen by the college’s head of sport and community links Shawn McCormick.