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!
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 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.