Tokyo Olympics hopefuls have one more chance to qualify for the summer games at Townsville’s Festival of Athletics this month.

Athletics North Queensland was awarded a $35,000 grant by Townsville City Council last month to help draw more than 7500 participants to the north for the three-day event from June 18 – 20.

Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson Ann-Maree Greaney said Council was proud to throw its support behind such a positive event at the Townsville Sports Reserve.

“The Festival of Athletics is an incredible event that helps people of all ages and abilities enjoy inclusive sport and physical activity,” Cr Greaney said. “This year’s event will ensure participants from all backgrounds are able to compete, which is great news for athletes right across our region. Highlights of the event include fun runs, team challenges for schools and businesses, and an athletics championship that targets regional and Olympic-level athletes. Having these different tiers of competition will help show all participants that you can engage in sports and physical activity no matter your fitness level or age.”

Athletics North Queensland strategic development manager Dayne O’Hara said he was “very excited” for the inaugural festival to kick off.

“It’s the last chance for Olympian hopefuls to qualify for the 2021 Olympics,” Mr O’Hara said. “From an athletics point of view this is really a drawcard not only for our locals but also for national and international athletes, with more than 120 athletes coming up from across Australia and New Zealand to not only compete in the warm weather but in perfect competition conditions. We’re aiming for it to be the biggest community athletics event in Australia and the Oceania region, with more than 1400 athletes competing over three days of jam-packed action. While track and field is happening we’ll also have a combination of community events. We’ll have a fun run happening, we have Rotary coming in to do a two-day market, and also corporate and team challenges. The more spectators the better. It’s a free event, so come enjoy the markets, go enjoy the cultural aspect, grab some food and catch some athletics in action.”

Cr Greaney said the festival would go a long way towards boosting drive tourism in Townsville.

“We want to support our local economy as much as possible, and events like the Festival of Athletics help draw in visitors from right across North Queensland to not only enjoy the event but to also eat at our great cafes and restaurants, to stay in our city’s hotels, and to enjoy our local attractions,” she said. “Supporting events like the Festival of Athletics is just one way for Council to support our local businesses and economy.”