The Illawarra Academy of Sport competed at the 2017 Clubs NSW Academy Games in the Central Coast over the weekend, taking the podium for boys hockey, girls rugby sevens and various triathlon events. The Games showcase the states best talent of Academy athletes from 11 regional New South Wales towns and include nine sports ranging from basketball to triathlons. Programs and Communications Coordinator of the Clubs NSW Academy Games and Central Coast Academy of Sport, Mark Tipple said the Academy Games are an annual event held in April each year and reveal plenty of young talent from across the State. “The Games are held for pre-elite and junior athletes and ages vary depending on the sport played, but most athletes are 14-16 years of age.” The Illawarra Academy of Sport was the first Academy created in NSW and a pioneer for the Academy model in Australia. Program and Athlete Development Manager from the Illawarra Academy of Sport, Andrew Barrett, said athletes from the Academy competed in the basketball, hockey, rugby sevens, golf, netball, tenpin bowling and both short and long course triathlons. “Every athlete puts in many hours each week to play at the level they do. They have been working hard for months or even years. It is quite amazing what talents exists here in the Illawarra.” The Academy featured on the podium with first place in the girl’s rugby sevens after an undefeated streak, third place in golf, third place in boy’s hockey and various seconds, thirds and fourths for the short and long course triathlons. Established in 1985, the Illawarra Academy of Sport has supported more than 5000 regional athletes with programs to develop and excel through sport while maintaining strong community ties, particularly Sally Fitzgibbons (surfing), Emma McKeon (swimming) and Josh Morris (rugby league). The Hunter will be the Host Academy for the Games for 2018 - 2020.