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Maclean resident Tom Hancock is picture with Victoria’s governor, Lynda Dessau AC, at an Australia Day 2018 Honours List ceremony. Image: Contributed

OAM recognises coach’s achievements

Geoff Helisma | Tom Hancock and his wife Margaret follow the sun, residing in Maclean during winter and at their hometown, Melbourne, in summer. Recently returned to the Lower Clarence, a chance catch-up with the Independent at a local coffee shop revealed Mr Hancock was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) – for service to athletics – when the Australia Day 2018 Honours List was announced. Mr Hancock’s service to athletics list is long, and recognises his achievements as a throws coach – discus, javelin, hammer and shot put – for Australian teams, including coaching eight-time Australian discus champion Werner Reiterer to gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. Mr Hancock was subsequently awarded the 1995 Henri Schubert Memorial Award, as nominated by Athletics Australia on recommendation from the Australian Track and Field Coaches Association. He was also recognised for his work as a university lecturer “in charge of athletics”. Mr Hancock, however, is best known in the Lower Clarence for the time he puts in voluntarily coaching and mentoring young athletes in Maclean. He said there were other coaches, too, with whom he had worked who deserved recognition. “A lot of guys who have worked with me, they might not be level 5 coaches, they might be level 1, they go out there and coach kids every week,” he said. “I sort of feel like I was representing them in a way – it was a bit of recognition for what I’ve done and what they do.” He recalled his work with the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF). “The government wanted to work with the IAAF, who find countries that are struggling to produce coaches; so they get people from a country where there are a fair few coaches [like Australia], and the coaches go and lecture there,” he said. “I went and ran courses in Indonesia, Maldives, Cook Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu over a period of 20 years [1981 to 2000]. “You go there for three weeks; you run the course and do the examination; and then [the country’s government] give those people coaching jobs.” Mr Hancock has also enjoyed a distinguished career competing in masters events (for people aged 30 and over), having won various medals, including gold in the men’s throws pentathlon (75 to79-years-old) at the 2011 World Masters Athletics held in Sacramento, California.