Winter Olympics training at Lennox? (No - it's not a joke)
LENNOX Head could become a world class training facility for winter Olympians if a proposal to build a $6 million aerial water jump comes to fruition.
The facility was to have been built at the Sleeman Sports Complex in Brisbane, but Campbell Newman's government withdrew funding for the project just before the 36m high-jump ramps were to be installed.
A spokesman for the Australian Olympic Committee, Mike Tancred, said they are now investigating other sites and Lennox Head is at the top of the list.
"Lennox is already established as a surfing Mecca... There is a synergy between winter sport and surfing. Many of our top athletes competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February have come from a surfing and skateboard background. They complement each other," Mr Tancred said.
At the moment Australia's aerial skiers have to train overseas. The only facility available in Australia is a dam at Wandin, east of Melbourne, that former Olympic skier Jackie Cooper said looked more like a farm dam than an Olympic training facility.
"You might come up with an ear infection or a leech in your ear," she said.
Australia has a good track record in aerial skiing with Lydia Lassila the defending Olympic champion, winning gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Alisa Camplin won gold in Salt Lake City in 2002 and a bronze medal in Turin in 2004 Games. Jackie Cooper was a world champion and Kirstie Marshall a winner of 40 World Cup medals including 17 gold.
A proposal to build a pool with the necessary jump ramps as part of the Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre has been submitted to the NSW Government. It is proposed the facility could also be used for water polo, synchronised swimming, divers, triathletes and swimmers.
A spokesperson for Sport and Recreation Minister Gabrielle Upton said the minister could not make any comment on the proposal at this stage of the unsolicited tender process.
The Lennox Head proposal has the support of the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Olympic Committee.
Mr Tancred said the Lennox facility was already home to the NSW Institute of Sport Junior Triathlon program and it could become a major facility for other athletes wanting to live and train there.