Victorians Richard Lawysz & Mark Stewart Inducted As Life Members Of Athletics Australia

Athletics Victoria would like to congratulate Richard Lawysz and Mark Stewart for being inducted as Life Members of Athletics Australia.

Richard and Mark were both recognised at the Annual General Meeting for their immense contribution towards the sport of athletics.

A recognition well deserved!

Richard Lawysz

First registered in 1965 as an athlete with St Josephs, Geelong.

Richard has worked as an athletic official since 1980, having provided more than 30 years of service to AA, AV, and to Geelong Athletics Centre (seniors and Little Athletics clubs) as well as holding position of president of the Centre.

A local high jump coach, whose junior/LAs success include Olympian Joel Baden, Richard has worked tirelessly as coach, administrator, educator, mentor and official at all levels of athletics.

Richard has served on both the AV and AA officials’ committees often chairing these and other subcommittees.

He has been instrumental in establishing the content and tests for officials courses at all levels, conducting the courses and marking the tests, as well as mentoring and developing officials. Richard played a significant role in developing the Australian Athletics Officials’ Education Scheme (AAOES) a joint initiative between AA and ALA to ensure an effective and efficient education framework.

His qualifications include:

  • OLEO Victoria 2004
  • Qualifications – Oceania 2004
  • IAAF TOECS II Diploma 2002
  • IAAF ITO (Area): Appointed  2002—2010
  • IAAF AA ITO – Diploma III Passed /Appointed 2010
  • IAAF ITO (Area) 2014-2018
  • IAAF Diploma III 2014

Major events include:

  • 2000 Para Olympic Games
  • South Pacific Games, Samoa 2007 – Jumps Official
  • LOC Chair World Masters Games 2009
  • Commonwealth Games, New Delhi (IND) 2010
  • World Championships
  • World Indoors 2012
  • Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014
  • Oceania Championships, Samoa 2015


  • AV Life Member 2008
  • Merit Award 1999
  • Julius S Patching Sports Official of the Year 2007
  • 2010 Vic Sport Official of the Year (selected from across all sports)
  • AA Official of the Year 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Richard has served our sport continuously throughout his 30 plus years and is thoroughly deserving of an Athletics Australia Life membership.

Mark Stewart

Mark Stewart has led the way in Victoria and Australia with coaching and mentoring in the pole vault, one of the most highly technical events in athletics.

Mark first joined Box Hill Athletic Club as a teenager in the 1970s. He was ranked in Australia’s top-10 vaulters every year from 1982 to 1995, and set his personal best of 4.90 metres in 1995. As well as competing and coaching Mark would often be seen setting up the pole vault and officiating at interclub.

Academically, Mark completed a Master’s degree in economics and went on to attain a Ph.D. Mark became a successful coach early on in his career. He has coached all-comers, but is best known to a wider sporting public through his association with Emma George and Steve Hooker. He has also coached many athletes to success at club, national and international level including:

  • Brodie Cross (Youth Olympics);
  • Rachael Dacy (World University and Commonwealth Games);
  • Rosanna Ditton (World University Games);
  • Bridgid Isworth (world junior championships and Commonwealth Games);
  • Blake Lucas (World University Games);
  • Jacinta Lynn (World University Games):
  • Joel Pocklington (Commonwealth Games);
  • Phillipa Hajdasz (World U18 championships).

Mark has always been generous in sharing his vast knowledge with all athletes and their coaches around Australia. In addition to his voluntary coaching, officiating and mentoring work, Mark has worked for Athletics Australia as the national pole vault co-ordinator (1999 to 2002) and as the national youth event co-ordinator (since 2006).

In fulfilling these roles Mark has always worked above and beyond expectations, working very hard to encourage coaches from all states. He has shared his deep knowledge and supported some of our key smaller states to develop junior squad athletes and World U18 and U20 team members.

Notably, Mark has worked with Kym Simons in South Australia – coach of NASS athlete Kurtis Marschall (both world U20 championships silver medallist and Rio Olympic representative in 2016) and four other of his athletes who have been in national squads in the past three years.

Mark has supported Zsuzsanna Olgyay-Szabó who came from Hungary with little English and who coaches NASS athletes Jack Hicking (world U20 championships 2014) and Angus Armstrong (Australian senior national champion 2015).

Tasmania and Canberra both have healthy developing pole vault programs with Mark’s help over the past three years. Without Mark’s work and support this would not have happened.

Mark worked with Emma George from the time she took up the event until she had reached world record status and likewise Australia’s greatest pole vaulter Steve Hooker from the time he took up the event until he became Commonwealth champion in Melbourne in 2006. Characteristically, he then supported both in moving to the Australian Institute of Perth facility in Perth where they could work with Alex Parnov.

Emma joined Mark in 1994 in response to a message he had posted on the Box Hill club’s notice board calling for athletes to come and try the pole vault. By the end of 1997, when she moved to Perth, she had set 10 world records, including an indoor mark using a pit set up in the gymnasium at Melbourne’s Camberwell Grammar School.

Together, Mark Stewart and Emma George, took the fledgling women’s event to new heights.

Steve Hooker also began his vaulting career with Mark, going from beginner in 1997 to representing Australia at the World U20 championships in Chile in 2000 (finishing fourth) and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games before becoming Commonwealth champion on the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2006 competing in his hometown.

Building on Mark’s strong foundations, Steve transferred to the AIS in Perth before enjoying his greatest period from 2008 to 2010 when he successively won every major honor available to him – the 2008 Olympic gold medal, the 2009 world championships, the 2010 world indoor championships and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Mark is all things pole vault. He has been active in sourcing equipment, buying it in bulk and making it available to all coaches and athletes no matter what club they belong to.

As well as years of setting up, coaching and officiating at interclub, Mark has been responsible for organizing various indoor pole vault events including promotional competitions at shopping centres.

A respected published author, Mark has featured several times in publications such as Modern Athlete and Coach, Australasian Science, and Quantum.

Pole vault is in a very healthy state in our country and much of this due to Mark’s tireless work and boundless passion. He is thoroughly deserving of an AA Life Membership.


Shield Weather Cancellations – Red vs Blue & Ballarat

URGENT UPDATE Blue V Red Zone v Zone Frankston….due to the weather, the event at Frankston today has been cancelled. The Zone Chairs conducted a risk assessment this morning after heavy rains, hail and severe winds created unsafe conditions to conduct competition. In addition, the weather bureau forecast for Frankston shows more heavy rain and wind warnings which will impact competition and the safety of athletes and officials. We are in the process of sending an SMS to BLUE and RED Zone competitors advising them of the cancellation of this event.
NOTE The Zone v Zone event at Aberfeldie will continue.

The competition in Ballarat has also been cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

The Zone v Zone Round between Blue and Red will be rescheduled as a virtual scoring round or as a future actual round with further details to be provided later. Ballarat reschedule or virtual scoring has yet to be determined.
We thank the Blue, Red & Ballarat Zone Committees for ensuring the safety of all competitors and officials.

Melbourne Marathon – Team Victoria Victorious!

Another dominant display by the Victorian women highlighted an exciting weekend at the MCG, with the Australian & Victorian Championships being decided at the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival.

Having taken out both the Half Marathon and Cross Country team titles, our women were looking for the 2016 clean sweep  – with home town advantage on their side.  Once again it was 26-year-old Collingwood Harrier, Virginia Moloney, who lead the way taking overall victory and the Australian & Victorian Championship titles.

Moloney’s stellar rise in 2016 has been nothing short of remarkable, with a win at the Australian Cross Country Championship, coming off the back of a streak of XCR road victories from 10k to the Half Marathon. Crossing the line on the hallowed turf of the MCG in a time of 2:34:27, Moloney has staked an early claim for selection for the 2017 World Championships in London, the windy Melbourne conditions making this an even more impressive performance.

South Melbourne athlete and team captain Sinead Diver once again provided the back up for Moloney, taking second place overall in 2:41:15.  An interrupted lead in certainly didn’t help Diver, but the character that saw her perform so well in the Beijing World Marathon Championships certainly shone through over the challenging second half of the course.

Marathon debutant Ellie O’Kane from Deakin completed the scoring team running consistently over the 42km to finish fourth overall in a time of 2:46:11, just 9 seconds shy of third.  In her first foray over the marathon distance, O’Kane indicated this may well be the event for her.

So with positions 1,2 & 4 the clean sweep became a reality – once again demonstrating the strength of distance running in Victoria and the importance of the XCR series as a key part of preparation for national events.

Western Athletics’ Nardine Bainbridge filled the next position for Victoria followed by Glenhuntly’s Tarli Bird and Tracey Austin from the Malvern Harriers.  Bainbridge’s time of 2:51:47 was a 90 second improvement on her personal best from the Gold Coast Marathon earlier in the year.

The Victorian men settled for second position in the team event behind a strong contingent from New South Wales.  Victorian Half Marathon Champion Zac Newman from Melbourne University trumped a number of the pre-race favourites to lead the team in with a well judged race, seeing him finish fourth overall in a time of 2:25:21.

John Dutton from Frankston AC was next to finish for the Big V, crossing the line 9th in 2:28:06.  Rounding out the top 10, team captain Steve Dinneen from Box Hill finished in 2:28:37.  Ballarat YCW’s Nic Van Raaphorst rounded out the team placing 14th in 2:32:51.

Overall winners and Australian Championship placings:

1st Virginia Moloney (VIC) 2:34:27
2nd Sinead Diver (VIC) 2:41:15
3rd Victoria Beck (QLD) 2:46:02

1st Tom Do Canto (NSW) 2:20:53
2nd Jack Colreavy (NSW) 2:23:16
3rd Matt Cox (NSW) 2:24:04

Australian Championship – Teams

1st Victoria
2nd Western Australia
3rd Queensland

1st New South Wales
2nd Victoria
3rd Queensland

Victorian Championship

1st Virginia Moloney – Collingwood Harriers
2nd Sinead Diver – South Melbourne
3rd Ellie O’Kane – Deakin

1st Zac Newman – Melbourne University
2nd Julian Spence – Athletics Chilwell
3rd Dane Verwey – Frankston