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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20108

Mr FARMER (9:22 PM) —Tonight I stand before you to speak about something that is very dear to my heart, something that I was heavily involved with prior to my coming to this House: the Sydney Marathon. The Sydney Marathon is arguably the best marathon in Australia. It is one of many events in this country, indeed around the world, that put up the ultimate physical and mental challenge to sports men and women. Marathon is undoubtedly one of the toughest and most demanding sports in the world. It is seen as the toughest event in the Olympics. In conquering the physical and mental challenges that long-distance running provides we learn lessons that we can take with us through every aspect of our lives. That is why I am proud to have helped develop the Prime Minister's `future five'.

The Prime Minister's Running for a Future Team is a federal government partnership to encourage excellence in sport and business and, most importantly, to identify and foster Australia's marathon stars of the future. The PM's team will be selected each year in conjunction with the Sydney Marathon Festival and will consist of up-and-coming marathon runners who show real potential and the desire, talent and attitude to achieve on the world stage. Business leaders, sponsors and sporting mentors who have achieved success at an elite level will also be involved. As a former sportsman, I understand how important this last point is. You can have all the talent and enthusiasm in the world, but often it is all for nothing unless you have the right people around you to guide and help you along the way. That is where the mentors come into play. Every member of the PM's team will be matched with both a sporting and a business mentor to help them achieve their goals and in time, hopefully, their Olympic dream.

You would agree that to have the likes of Steve Moneghetti, Robert de Castella, Kerryn McCann and Tani Ruckle on board would certainly give these young athletes a great start. Add to these four the five business mentors that Athletics Australia has helped us to find and you will see that we have a formula for success. The business mentors we have chosen for this program are people such as Herb Elliott, Alex Hamill, Lou Jardin, Russell Scrimshaw and Darren Tucker. We also have five corporate sponsors on board to provide the financial assistance to help these young athletes achieve their dream. The inaugural PM's team provides a solid platform from which to develop an initiative with the ultimate aim of finding the next de Castella or Steve Moneghetti.

Mr Hardgrave —Or the next Pat Farmer.

Mr FARMER —Maybe a Pat Farmer in the future. Who knows? All five runners in the PM's team have already competed in the 2003 Sydney Marathon Festival, which was held on Sunday 14 September. The PM's team was represented in all three events: the 10-kilometre bridge run, the half marathon and the Flora Marathon. I am happy to note that Scott Westcott was the male winner of the 10-kilometre run and Kate Seibold-Crosbie was the female winner of the 10-kilometre run. Shane Hayes is a young 17-year-old wild card entrant to the Prime Minister's team. The winner of the Sydney Marathon was Paul Arthur, who is now part of the Prime Minister's five. The women's winner was Helen Verity Tolhurst, who is now the 2003 women's Australian marathon champion.

These days, especially in this House, we focus on the doom and gloom that faces the world today and a lot of the problems of life. We concentrate on the negatives that ordinary people are faced with every day of their life. It is very refreshing for the Prime Minister to set forth a plan such as this—a plan similar to the one for the cricketers of the Prime Minister's XI. Now with the Prime Minister's top five marathon runners we have an opportunity for people to dream—to dream for the Olympics and to dream just as they did during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.