Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News 22 July 2020

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Olympic hopefuls team up to train By Bree Masters ATHLETES training for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics are being confronted by an unforeseen obstacle: the six-week lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. With their training options suddenly curtailed Mornington Peninsula Athletics Club sprinters Sophia Fighera and Matthew Rizzo have teamed up to help each other stay fit for Tokyo. Matthew Rizzo, 2017 Stawell Gift winner, said news of sporting facilities and gyms closing and outdoor exercise being restricted to two people, means his Olympic dream is at stake. “With gyms closing, it will mean that we will not be able to complete our gym sessions and may cause us to be behind the eight ball compared to athletes from other states once the restrictions are over,” Rizzo said. “I am currently in the process of modifying my training sessions and working out a revised training plan with my coach for the next six weeks, that will still allow me to take the path that I need to get me to the Olympic games next year.” Rizzo, 21, of Langwarrin said the lockdown would also have a big impact on training for many athletes around Victoria. “At first, I was disheartened about the news, however I am trying to stay positive, despite the new restrictions,” Rizzo said. “I’ve wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a young boy, so I’m willing to jump a few hurdles to achieve my ultimate goal of representing my country at the Games.” Training partner and fellow Olympic hopeful, Fighera, said training would be different without the moti-

Fit for purpose: Australian Ninja Warrior competitors Ashlin Herbert, Troy Cullen, Zak Stolz and Charlie Robbins, and Ashlin’s girlfriend Sarah Blackmore, train at Peninsula Gymnastics, Rosebud. Picture: Yanni

‘Warriors’ vie for an edge

In step: Matthew Rizzo, above, and fellow 2021 Olympic team hopeful Sophia Fighera are training together on the Mornington Peninsula in line with the latest coronavirus restrictions. Picture: Clay Nettlefold

vation and company of her peninsulabased Pride Performance squad. “Training without my squad will be very difficult, as we all push each other to be better and we have a lot of fun at training,” Fighera, runner-up in the 2019 Stawell Gift, said. “I am very lucky to still be able to train alongside my sister and have a little gym set up at home so I can still work on my strength.”

With the big goal of racing at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games, 22-yearold Fighera said despite the restrictions, she will continue to focus on her ultimate goal of racing at the Games. “I will continue to push myself in every session and focus on both my small and big goals,” she said. “I will focus on working on my weakness and continuing to improve the small aspects in my training.”

THE season return of Australian Ninja Warrior has a Mornington Peninsula flavour. The competitors include fan favourite Ashlin Herbert, of Mornington, alongside his mates Troy Cullen and Zak Stolz, of Rye, and last year’s winner Charlie Robbins, also of Rye. Joining the Channel 9 show is Herbert’s girlfriend Sarah Blackmore, also of Rye, who, after training with the boys for the past three years, decided to give the course a go. Fans believe there’s a good chance one of the peninsula’s team will take out the title of Australia’s first Ninja Warrior. The show is being contested by 140 “everyday Aussies who just happen to be inspirational athletes” training hard to take on the obstacle course. Ninjas will compete head-to-head

for the first time, and the fastest Ninja on the Power Tower will receive a time advantage going into the semifinals. There, the two fastest Ninjas each night will compete on a tougher Power Tower set-up, and the fastest Ninja will earn a rerun if he or she splashes out in the grand finals. The competitor who goes farthest and fastest wins $100,000. A competitor who conquers the so-far-unclimbable Mt Midoriyama in the fastest time will win $400,000 and claim the title of Australia’s first ever Ninja Warrior. The ninja warrior course is at the Melbourne Showgrounds. In a new, later program the best competitors from each state will team up to battle it out for $100,000 as Australian Ninja Warrior: State of Origin. Stephen Taylor

Move to curb CEO’s ‘bonus’ powers Keith Platt MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors want the state government to rein in the power of municipal chief executive officers to prevent bonuses being secretly given to staff. Under the current rules CEOs can grant bonuses to staff without telling councillors, residents or ratepayers. Council CEOs are the only council officers appointed and controlled by councillors. All other council staff are under the jurisdiction of the CEO. Cr David Gill told The News that the shire’s current CEO, John Baker, had not awarded any bonuses to staff.

However, a previous CEO who he declined to name, had provided bonuses to individual officers “of $40,000 and up to $60,000”. The 2019/20 budget shows staff costs comprise $82.1 million of the shire’s total expenses of $191.7m. “We all have the right to know how our rates and any other income is spent,” Cr Gill said. “A former CEO of the shire has apparently been able to pay huge bonuses without the knowledge of council. “I believe that the council of the time set up a mechanism to prevent bonus payments being paid without their knowledge, but that was seemingly ignored.”

Councillors at the 14 July meeting (held online) agreed with Cr Gill that the Local Government Minister Shaun Leane be asked to “review … the situation where chief executive officers of municipalities in Victoria have extraordinary powers to give confidential large yearly bonuses to selected staff … and is apparently entirely at their sole discretion”. Mr Leane was appointed local government minister in June following the sacking by the Premier Daniel Andrews of Adem Somyurek amid allegations of branch stacking and offensive language. The request was also made to Local Government Victoria and Victorian

Auditor-General’s Office and listed for adoption by other councils at the next state conference of the Municipal Association of Victoria. The shire’s letter to the minister will state that the powers given by the government to CEOs “lacks transparency and accountability and creates apprehension of outcomes that may not be in the community interest”. Comments made on the agenda by an unnamed officer said there were “mechanisms” already built into the system to stop the CEO telling council if any bonuses had been granted. “Therefore, it is the officer position that such oversight does not require any legislative or state policy change,

with mechanisms to address the concerns raised presently available within the existing legislative and policy framework,” the unnamed officer stated.” The officer stated that council could ask to be told about any performancebased bonuses and if they had been appropriately assessed. The officer then stated that “council officers will be seeking clarity regarding what points of advocacy are to be raised and specifically what changes are sought” if councillors asked Mr Leane to curb the powers of CEOs. Councillors voted unanimously to approach Mr Leane, the auditor general and other municipalities.

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Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News

22 July 2020


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