James Matthews from Sacred Heart College concedes his younger brother Andrew has been a benchmark setter.
Andrew is a two-time National Secondary Schools triathlon champion and James is attempting to emulate his success. (James & Andrew below, James is on the left)
“I have been a triathlete since Year 8, but I have always been more of a swimmer and a runner. I struggled on the bike to begin with, but I am getting better,” he says.
On Sunday James won the College Sport Auckland under-19 triathlon title in Takapuna. The conditions were hot and humid for the 750m swim, 20km cycle and 4.3km run. Initially the oppressive heat bothered James who was last of the front group after the transition between the bike and the run, but he came from behind to win.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to win, and I am grateful for the coaching of the Sacred Heart athletics program. They have really boosted my running and that helped on Sunday.”
James won by three minutes after a storming finish. He is on the brink of reaching the Triathlon New Zealand High Performance squad. Earlier this season he finished third in the Kinloch triathlon and 7th at the under-19 nationals in blustery Wellington wind.
“It was my goal to make the National squad at the start of the year and if I keep working hard I should go pretty close,” Matthews explains.
The National squad is named in late April, a month in which Matthews will have plenty on his mind.
He will travel to Budapest in Hungary for the World Secondary Schools’ Cross Country Championships. James will represent Sacred Heart in the six-man team event alongside James Uhlenberg, Jono Ansley, Liam Miller, Sean Paget, Jacob Holmes, plus reserve Dominic Grace.
Sacred Heart earned the right to attend the international event after winning the National title in Dunedin in June. Matthews says Hungary will be a leap into the unknown.
“It will be spring over there so I think the weather will be pretty cool. There are lots of top countries so it will be a tough challenge.”
Raising $6,500 per athlete has been a battle. Sacred Heart have been fundraising for five months with sausage sizzles, a givealttle page and other initiatives.
The Auckland College Sports Triathlon Championships were part of the Takapuna Tri Series Triathlon. As well as James Matthews (Senior Boys), Rangitoto College’s Jacey Cropp (Senior Girls), Saint Kentigern College’s Dylan McCullough (Intermediate Boys), Baradene College’s Isabella Morton (Intermediate Girls), Rangitoto College’s Callum Hockey (Junior Boys) and Westlake Girls’ Noya Oporto (Junior Girls) were winners.
Also of note was the performance of Westlake Boys’ High School Year 13 student Daniel Hoy. He finished fifth and was the best of the New Zealanders in the Elite Men’s sprint race. Hoy finished just 45 seconds behind the winner from Israel and just behind athletes from Australia and Japan.
Auckland College Sport Triathlon Championships
Junior Girls (U14)
1 Noya Oporto, Westlake Girls
2 Natalya Carter, Baradene College
3 Sophie Spencer, Saint Kentigern College
1 Callum Hockey, Rangitoto College
2 Andrew Matthews, Sacred Heart College
3 Campbell Jordan, Saint Kentigern College
Intermediate Girls (U16)
1 Isabella Morton, Baradene College
2 Maddy Clarke, Saint Kentigern College
3 Natalie Mitchell, Baradene College
1 Dylan McCullough, Saint Kentigern College
2 Mathew Faulconbridge, Saint Kentigern College
3 Nicholas Cowley-Andrea, McLeans College
Senior Girls (U19)
1 Jacey Cropp, Rangitoto College
2 Anna Wilkinson, Baradene College
3 Jeri Oporto, Westlake Girls High School
1 James Matthews, Sacred Heart College
2 Harry McLoughlin, Green Bay High School
3 Nicolo Oporto, Westlake Boys High School
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