Torrential rains wash out junior baseball championships
By ADAM HICKS
THEY got away from the bushfires but were beaten by the flood.
West Australian baseballers Robert Glendinning and Roy Hotvedt were yesterday left to splash around at Albert Park, Lismore, after the Australian Under 14 Baseball Championships were cancelled due to days of torrential rains.
The boys and their team-mates, mostly from Perth, arrived in the midst of the deluge on Thursday while severe bushfires raged on the outskirts of their home city.
They are among eight teams, including 200 players and 300 parents to travel to Lismore for the tournament which has now been abandoned along with all local sporting events scheduled for the weekend.
As more than 130mm of rain fell on Lismore between Thursday morning and yesterday afternoon, a down-hearted Steve Mackney was forced to concede that next week's Under 12s cricket carnival would also be abandoned.
It is the first time in the carnival's 25-year history that it has been cancelled.
"With the amount of rain we've had and the way things have deteriorated, we couldn't guarantee that we could have the grounds ready by Thursday," said Mackney, the carnival co-ordinator.
"I can't begin to tell you of the disappointment of the regions.
"They were really, really looking forward to coming up.
"It falls short of devastating. I have to remind myself that it is only sport, but it is really disappointing."
Most teams were alerted in time, but a squad from Camden in Sydney had already begun their road trip before the cancellation.
All sport cancelled
All sporting grounds in Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Tweed areas are closed until further notice which also means there will be no play in Round 7 of the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League.
Huge seas have also forced the Brunswick Heads Surf Life Saving Club masters competition to be postponed until Saturday February 2.
Round three of the Rooster's Cup and V8 Dirt Modifieds at Lismore Speedway is a wash-out.
The Cabarita Bronc 'n' Buck rodeo got bucked.
Sunday's Murwillumbah races are all but cancelled with the track heavy turning to mud.
And the Nutra Grain Ironman trial was moved from Coolangatta to Redcliffe to officially make this an armchair weekend for the region's sports fans.
But it was already too late for the 500 people in town for the baseball, with some paying up to $1000 to make it here for the championships due to start today.
Australian Baseball tournament management committee member Bill O'Sullivan said yesterday organisers had looked at shifting the event to one of four locations between Blacktown in Sydney and the Gold Coast but that none were feasible.
"The tournament in Lismore is officially cancelled," he said.
"Disappointing is the understatement of the century.
"Mark Robb and his organising committee have worked tirelessly on this.
"They've put in hundreds and hundreds of hours of voluntary work.
"There is an enormous amount of responsibility.
"They have done everything extremely well and it's all been taken away from them.
"You just can't fight the elements. It's all gone now and there's nothing we can do about it.
"There will be no play in Lismore for about a month."
Two teams from NSW and Victoria were set to face teams from WA, South Australia, Queensland and a combined ACT/NT side in eight days of competition culminating next Saturday.
"We were faced with the decision on Wednesday of calling it off and not coming at all," O'Sullivan said.
"But everyone had already bought their tickets and paid deposits and it was sunny on Wednesday and we thought we were a chance."
The WA team's executive officer Vince Baker said the boys had come a long way not to play.
"They are wanting to play games, they're here to play baseball," he said.
Robb said the organising committee had organised deals for the boys to go skating, bowling and to the cinemas.