JUNE 3rd-4th, 2023


Leonora kids day

The kids of Leonora possess infinite energy. Their legs are always running, their feet hardly touching the ground. They have an inborn love of movement. A deep passion for the outdoors.

On Friday, Leonora District High School welcomed four of the nation’s best runners to lead the final day of the Golden Gift athletics clinic. Olympic coach Philo Saunders, Youth Olympic champion Keely Small, and Paralympians Michael Roeger and Jaryd Clifford shared their stories with the entire school, drawing upon their own battles with adversity to deliver their key life lessons.
Having experienced several years of heartbreak before being crowned world champion in the arm-amputee Marathon last month, Michael Roeger has experienced the benefits of unwavering persistence.
“Never give up,” he said in his morning presentation. “It’s all about letting them know that sometimes you’ll get knocked down, but life is all about getting up.”
Coach Philo Saunders – now aged 42, but still a contender to qualify for the elite mile final on Sunday – reflected this message in his final words to the kids.
“Believe in yourself,” he said. “Just try to focus on the positives in life. Think about all the things that are good, rather than dwelling on the negatives. Just believe that you can achieve good things.”
Throughout the day the kids participated in an array of activities, ranging from sprint relays to vision-impaired guide racing practice. Inspired by visually impaired 1500m world record holder Jaryd Clifford, the kids paired up and honed their ability to keep in sync and work as a team.
“It was great to see all the kids working together,” he said. “It shows them that there is a way to overcome the barriers of life if everyone looks after each other.”

Reggie – Leonora’s Physical Education teacher – praised the clinic. For her, the entire Golden Gift weekend is pivotal for the athletic development of the school.
“There aren’t a lot of competitions up here,” she said. “We have to go to Kalgoorlie for a comp, so the Golden Gift is brilliant. It encourages the kids to do their best, and helps them aim to keep fit.”
She also recognises the importance of exposing the kids to the opportunities that exist in the wider world. 
“All the kids are natural athletes, so for them to see that you can go from the bottom to the top is super important,” she continued. “Hopefully it gives them an understanding of the bigger world.”
For all the kids, the clinic annually ranks as one of the most popular events in their school year. Adam (10), Montana (11), Nickayden (10), and Nicole (9) all agreed that the day had been “super fun.” Montana – who will be competing in the 600m – commented on how inspiring the clinics had been for her, especially leading into the Gift.
“I really love running,” she said. “It’s really good for me. I can’t wait for the Gift.”
The elite athletes that will arrive in Leonora tomorrow, look at this race as an experience unlike any other. For the kids of Leonora, the Golden Gift is their opportunity to show the world how fast they can run. The natural talent is abundant. The races this weekend will show that. 
Happy Golden Gift Eve!

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