World class sports stars do the Tweed proud
THE Tweed is a breeding ground for elite athletes.
From Joel "Parko" Parkinson to David Hale, Tim McCann and Kelvin Kerkow, the fact is, our region produces an extraordinary number of world class athletes.
So what makes growing up in the Tweed Shire conducive to athletic achievement?
It appears a strong sporting culture, top-notch facilities and a historic connection with sporting success are the main contributors to our shire's stellar record.
"This little shire breeds some pretty great athletes and there are some good reasons for that," Destination Tweed chief executive Bill Tatchell said.
"Our natural environment and great facilities are contributors to our sporting success on the world stage.
"Although, I think something must be in the water."
Helping mould future sports stars is the wide variety of sports events held in their very own backyard, from the Coolangatta Gold to the Battle on the Border.
Sports tourism will have earned over $9 million for our region in 2013, providing our athletes with easy access to events which will increase both their exposure and experience.
Kingscliff Stingers hockey coach and Daily News columnist Richard Philip said sport was an integral part of our lifestyle and believes we will continue to produce talented players.
He cited Tweed's healthy lifestyle, abundant sports facilities and dedicated coaches and volunteers as key pieces of the puzzle.
Surf journalist, avid board rider and Daily News columnist Andrew McKinnon views sport as an important part of the Tweed's coastal culture.
"The history of the Tweed and Gold Coast is rich in surfing champions," he said.
"It goes back to the 60s, when you had great surfers starting on our famous local point breaks.
"You had this incredible eruption of talent and it's just grown and evolved from there."
But McKinnon believes the cultural drive of young athletes is not limited to surfing.
"You've got these inspirational heroes ... everyone loves a hero right? If you're a young grommet or athlete you aspire to be like that person.
"There is this development and progression in the area that builds from generation to generation."
McKinnon said the Tweed's club-based sports mentality was also important.
"There's no doubt that clubs feeding the spirit of going all out for your team really does help."
Young athletes set to impress include the Gold Coast Titan's Ryan James, ironman Nathan Gray, board rider Mitch Parkinson and hockey's Fitzpatrick sisters.