By Bethany Alvaro
Dozens of Sydney Catholic Schools students took to a rocky track for an eventful and thrilling mountain-biking gala day recently.
More than 200 junior, intermediate and senior student competitors raced up to eight laps of the intricate and twisting 850-metre track at the Sutherland Shire Cycling Club.
The palpable excitement on the day translated into the impressive success of the winning students.
Thomas Layton (De La Salle, Caringbah) won first place for the boys’ junior group, completing six laps in 15 minutes, 24 seconds.. Grace Smith (Marist College, North Shore) won for the junior girls, coming in at 21 minutes,11 seconds.
Ashton Huyhn (Marist College, Kograh) won the boys intermediate race of seven laps in 16 minutes, 50 seconds. Hammond Nadia (Olsh, Kensington) won the girls intermediate race, in 20 minutes, 25 seconds.
The eight-lap challenge of the senior race was won by Rab Drummond (Holy Cross College, Ryde) in an impressive 18 minutes and six seconds while Lucia McGurk (St Vincents, Ashfield) won for the senior girls in an incredible 21minutes, 40 seconds.
St Mary’s Cathedral College Year 12 student Hunter Solomons highlighted the importance of going out with your friends and having a good time, regardless of the outcome.
“Gala days allow you to just go out and be with your mates,” he said.
“Nothing beats it”.
Joel Sinclair from Marist College, Eastwood echoed similar comments, explaining that gala days are “good for socialising because it’s made for all students, no matter what your ability level is.”
And the experts agree.
An article from the International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition, and Physical Education notes that “Sport is an effective element in community for the existence in a social life”.
With the popularity of basketball, soccer and other mainstream sports, students who excel and find enjoyment in niche sports have expressed their immense joy at the chance to show off their talent at gala days and organised sporting events, hosted by Sydney Catholic Schools.
Sinclair said the opportunities that Sydney Catholic Schools provide for students fosters an environment in which mountain biking skills can flourish, where they might not have any other chance to explore their talents.
“Not as many people are into mountain biking compared to soccer so to have the opportunity to practise and compete with other students is really beneficial for students”, he said.
Will Scully from Marist College, Eastwood, sums up the essence and spirit Sydney Catholic Schools is committed to providing to its students, “Gala days are so inclusive. They’re good for socialising and are truly made for everybody to participate in”.