Over the years Ballarat YCW has produced some of Australia’s finest elite athletes, with several claiming the ultimate goal of representing Australia at an Olympic Games or World Championships.
Undoubtedly the most famous and successful member of the club is Steve Moneghetti. ‘Mona’ represented Australia at four Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games, six World Championships and 10 World Cross Country Championships. Mona is the face of distance running in Ballarat and has helped establish a power distance running culture in the city over the past 25 years. His 16:10 lap of the 6km Lake Wendouree while representing the club in local competition still stands out as one of his more exceptional runs. Just as memorable was his scintillating last leg in the 1988 Athletics Victoria Cross Country Relays where he turned a 70 second deficit to Glenhuntly into a 20 second victory over a wet and muddy 6km cross country course.
Mona’s dedication to representing the club even extended to him wearing his club uniform to 2nd place in the London Marathon in 1989. Mona has always been a passionate YCW member and still regularly competes for the club locally and at state level. It was not unusual for him to return from international marathons to compete straight away for the club in the Ballarat to Daylesford Relay. Mona’s coach Chris Wardlow once famously said “God help us if the Olympics clash with the Daylesford relay”.
Tony Benson commenced with the club in 1961. It took a lot of door knocking by club icon Wally Brown to get Tony to forget fame as a footballer and join Ballarat YCW instead. Tony was the club’s first Olympian, attending the 1972 Munich Olympics. When he retired at 28 he had a world No 5 ranking at 5000m and the 8th fastest 3000m time in the world. Tony was also the trendsetter for the Lap of the Lake, running 16.59 in 1967. There are still only two runners who have run faster than this around the Lake. After Tony’s running career finished, he took on coaching and influenced the development of many of the club’s athletes throughout the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s.
Shaun Creighton joined YCW Harriers in the late 80’s. He came to Ballarat to attend the University of Ballarat and immediately created an impact on the Ballarat athletics scene. Shaun had an incredible all-round ability. He broke the Australian record for the 3000m Steeple with a time of 8.16 and also broke Ron Clark’s long standing 10,000m record in 1996 with a time of 27.31. On top of this he also represented Australia over the marathon distance. Shaun went to the Olympics in 1996 and 2000.
Shaun proved to be a valuable club member and competed in many Athletics Victoria events.
Sharon Russell (nee Stewart)
Sharon Stewart commenced running with the club in the early 80’s. Under the guidance of Tony Benson, she represented Australia on many occasions. Sharon went to the 1992 Olympic Games and won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Commonwealth games. Sharon also won the Australian 800m championships 3 times and the 400m championships twice
Shane spent his teens and earlier 20’s playing basketball. He didn’t take up running seriously until his mid 20’s, when he was introduced to the club by his now wife Paula (nee van Raaphorst) who is herself an accomplished runner.
Shane turned up to the Club 3km Championship in long basketball shorts and raised a few eyebrows when he almost broke 9 minutes. Needless to say he was signed up on the spot and has since gone on to represent Australia on 4 occasions. After competing in two World Duathlon Championships in 1997 and 1999, Shane turned to marathon training and, in 2003, represented Australia in the marathon at the World Championships in Paris. In 2004 Shane made his debut at the World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, and in 2006 he finished 7th in the Commonwealth Games Marathon in Melbourne.
At just 23 years of age Jared has achieved much in his short athletics career. He has competed in the World Youth Championships (2001), World Junior Championships (2001), World Race Walking Cup (2004, 2006), World Championships (2005, 2007) and the Melbourne Commonwealth games in 2006, where he claimed a Bronze medal. Jared is an example of the family culture within Ballarat YCW with all his family having competed with the club and his younger sisters Rachel and Ebony also showing ability as race walkers. Jared recently added Australian champion to his impressive resume when won the 50km walk, clocking 3 hours 44 minutes and 45 seconds – the third fastest time ever by an Australian. This secured Jared Olympic selection and, in a quest to walk both distances in Beijing, he also won the 20km championships in a time of 1:19.41 in Melbourne.