As a new year approaches, it’s time to aim high with new belief in sport's magic

A FORK of lightning splits the darkened sky above Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium seconds after Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt crosses the finish line.

This is the moment Bolt has reclaimed his mantle as the world’s fastest man, edging out American Justin Gatlin in the IAAF World Championships men’s 100-metre final after two months of hype and build-up stemming from a Diamond League meet in Rome when Gatlin did the unthinkable – he beat Bolt.

In Moscow, even the heavens agreed that Bolt had set everything right again and did so on the world’s biggest stage.

In a year riddled with drug controversy at home and abroad, this moment reignites a belief in true, sporting magic.

New Year is promoted as a turning point, a time to set new resolutions and to be better.

Most elite athletes would be already well into preparations for their 2014 goals.

A great thing for sporting fans is the anticipation and excitement waiting and watching how these will pan out.

The 2014 sporting calendar is already rich with chances for athletes to create more epic sporting tales – failure or glory, each story will be about athletes vying to be better.

Intrigue is building as to how Australian Olympic hurdler-turned-bobsledder Jana Pittman’s journey will unfold in Sochi as the first Australian woman to make the cross from Summer to Winter Games.

The Socceroos are already deep in plotting how they might survive what has been billed as the “group of death” in Brazil for the World Cup in June.

Top Australian athletes – including, we hope, a few Ballarat athletes – will also be on show for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

While race walking has been ruled out of Glasgow, leading Australian and Ballarat athlete Jared Tallent’s focus is on Taicing, China, and the biennial IAAF World Race Walking Cup.

These are among the world’s top sporting stages set for 2014.

Stages at home are just as important, as our regional clubs restructure their lists for seasons ahead or, in summer sports, regroup in the festive break for the final plunge to play-offs.

New Year is a time to think big and aim high for the year ahead.

Ballarat should throw its support behind some exciting developments.

Momentum is building in the Back the Bid campaign for Ballarat to host one of 16 nations for a pre-competition camp leading into the 2015 Asian Cup.

The benefit for our sport and economy will be impressive, let alone its impact in reinforcing Ballarat as a strong sporting hub.

Ultimately, competing nations pick their base but a multimillion-dollar upgrade to the Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility at Morshead Park has helped set this city as a frontrunner for a two-to-three week training base in December.

North Melbourne will return to Ballarat for its AFL community camp in a sixth consecutive year.

The Kangaroos will then host Carlton – and Blues coach Mick Malthouse in his football homecoming – in a NAB AFL Challenge match at Eureka Stadium on February 15.

This should strengthen the city’s bid to develop the Ballarat sports and entertainment precinct, particularly after Ballarat City Council this month unveiled a more pragmatic plan for a boutique arena by scaling plans for a 15,000-seat stadium down to 6000 seats.

Attracting a home-and-away AFL game was always going to be a long-haul dream but starting smaller and building on what we have got should make this dream, bit by bit, a reality.

Sport’s magic lies in the fact that anyone could win the contest.

Setting goals is vital in this process. As fans, sporting planners, coaches or athletes, not knowing what could happen in the year ahead, but knowing we tried our best, makes our rare Bolt-like moments even sweeter.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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