College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand
Jenna Tidswell is just getting to grips with being a world champion.
“I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, a year ago I would never have thought I would represent New Zealand, let alone win a world title”, the Year 10 Havelock North High School student said. “This is the third time I’ve represented New Zealand in the last seven months. It feels amazing! I love the sport.”
The sport is orienteering, and last week a group of New Zealand students, led by Jenna, who won the individual Junior Girls’ long course race, competed outstandingly at the World Secondary Schools championships in Antayla, Turkey.
Jenna didn’t just win her race, she blitzed the field. Her time of 42.14 was over seven minutes faster than the second placed finisher. She beat home girls from England, Scotland and Austria into second, third and fourth places.
Jenna’s Havelock North High School (HNHS) teammates Bianca Kirk and Olivia Wolland came home in fifth and sixth respectively and HNHS - representing New Zealand – also won gold in the Junior Girls’ team’s long course event.
In the medium course race, Bianca finished fourth, Olivia fifth, Jenna sixth, Alex Miller seventh and Aishlin McIntyre eighth.
It was also a successful World Championships for the two other Hawke’s Bay schools representing New Zealand, Napier Boys’ High School, whose junior team finished fourth and senior team finished 11th, and for the Napier Girls’ High School team, whose senior team came sixth in different events.
The schools were selected in July last year after their teams’ performances at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Championship held at Waiuku.
The last race in Turkey was the Friendship Relay, with 278 three-person teams from mixed countries entered. In this, Napier Boys’ Sebastian McFarland was a member of the winning team.
To top the week-long competition off, the New Zealand delegation was awarded the Fair Play Trophy, which is for outstanding sportsmanship, excellent behaviour of students and positive interaction with other countries.
College Sport Media had a chat with world Junior Girls’ long course champion Jenna Tidswell about her achievements and the sport of orienteering:
Did you have expectations when you lined up at the start line, or was it all into the unknown as to how you'd go?
I had no idea how I would go against the other countries, but I thought that top 10 would be amazing and top five would be incredible! NZ hasn’t won at this competition before so it was going to be difficult to get a placing, individually and for our team.
Please give us a brief explanation as to how orienteering works?
Orienteering is a about navigating between points (controls) on a map using visual features and a compass and running exceptionally fast without making any/many mistakes with route choice. There are always options with running from one point to the next and it’s about making the best choice fast. There are long, middle and sprint courses. A sprint is usually in an urban area, whereas a middle and long are run in the forests and farms. The long is usually considered to be the championship race. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good run for the middle distance in Turkey, coming sixth overall. I needed to be more prepared mentally and I had focused on the long course.
Individually, you won by over seven minutes -what was the key to your performance?
Preparation before the race, concentration during the course so I was accurate navigating to each control, and fitness to run fast through the course. I felt really good about the long course in Turkey, reading the contours correctly and choosing the fastest options.
You spent a week or so in Turkey beforehand training, acclimatising. What obstacles did you encounter?
The week of training was great because it helped me to get used to running in the rocky terrain with the type of forest found in the Antalya region. I didn’t encounter many animals but I saw goats and lizards, and I heard that my team mates ran past tortoises, snakes and scorpions on some of the courses. I was sure I saw a wolf on one of the runs but it may have been a wild rabid dog.
How and when did you first get into orienteering?
I first started orienteering when my Year 5 teacher at Haumoana School, David Barclay, introduced me to the sport, along with Bayley Stephens-Ellison who went to Turkey with the Napier Boys’ High School team and came third in the long course. From there I have run in Hawke’s Bay competitions each year, then the NI Secondary School Champs and NZ Secondary School Champs since Year 7, NZ Nationals, Australian Championships, Oceania School Champs in Australia and now the World Schools Champs in Turkey.
You've been to Australia twice in the past six months already?
Last year my first placings in the NZ Secondary School Champs meant I was selected to be part of the NZ Schools Selected team that travelled to Perth in September 2014 to race against the Australian State teams. I was very excited and nervous to be representing New Zealand, but I ran well. My best result was when I placed first in the Australian Long Individual champs. Our NZ team won that competition. The terrain was very different to home, it was dry and open with lots of rock everywhere and anthills. Then in January this year our NZ selected School team travelled to Tasmania for the NZ v Australia School challenge and Oceania Champs where my best result was in the School Individual Long course where I placed third.
What about the support you’ve had along the way?
I have to thank mum for all the support and encouragement plus the rest of my family. Also all the support from the Hawke’s Bay Orienteering Club, and David Barclay, my Haumoana primary school teacher who introduced me to orienteering. Especially I’d like to thank my coach – Steve Armon. He trained our team for six months where our training plan included early morning runs and afterschool orienteering practices and map study. He’s also coached me with athletics middle distance running. He is an amazing coach and my team and I really appreciate his dedication.
What does the immediate and medium term future hold for you?
The next important competition for me will be the Queen’s Birthday Orienteering Competition being held in Auckland where I’ll be part of the Hawke’s Bay team. It’s the main selection trials for the selected NZ team to run in the races in Ballarat, Australia later this year. I was born in Ballarat so I’m hoping I might be selected to return to challenge the Australian State teams again. Then in 2016 the NZSS Champs will be important because they’re the trials for the next world school champs held in Italy a year later. In the meantime I definitely will be at the NZSS Champs in Nelson representing Havelock North High School.
What other sports do you do?
I train for middle distance athletics, javelin and cross country running, and I’ve moved into football and other sports into just for fun. Until recently I’ve also been involved in cycling and triathlons. A few weeks before leaving for Turkey my Gannet Beach Adventures girls team won the Tremains Corporate Triathlon for the second year running, I did the cycle leg, my stepsister Maggie Franks is a top NZ age-group swimmer, and Georgia Creagh, who also went to Turkey with Napier Girls’ High School, was our runner. I’m in the Havelock North High School First XI girls’ football team this year. I’m also part of the Jarrod Cunningham Sports Academy at Havelock North High School.
Bobbi and Jacques Gichard have won so many swimming medals they don't know where to put them. Bobby explains there storage dilemma.
"Mum and Dad are really proud of us so they like to display our medals in the lounge room. We have so many now they only put the important ones out like national championships. It's a bit embarrassing really."
Where are the other medals?
"In the attic," Bobby says.
The Hastings brother and sister combination are two of the best age-group swimmers in the country.
Bobbi burst onto the since in 2012 when she won a Asics Sports Award for the Central region. As a 12 year old she broke the New Zealand 50m and 200m age-group short course records, improving her mark in the 50m mark three times.
To put her prowess in perspective, Bobbi Gichard - pound for pound, weight for weight - was swimming faster than New Zealand Olympian backstroker Gareth Keane.
Bobbi might not be far from the Olympics. Recently the Napier Girls' High School student won the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke titles at the New Zealand Open Championships in Auckland.
For the 100m backstroke, Bobbi is a second and a half away from the Olympic qualifying standard.
Are the Olympic Games a goal in 2016?
"Absolutely. It will be tough. I am really working on faster turns in the water to reduce my time, but I am training nine times a week in order to do that."
Bobbi has already been to the Junior Olympics. In Nanjing, China she won a bronze medal in the 100m backstroke. Bobbi says that taste of Olympic success has only strengthened her desire for higher honours.
"That was an awesome experience. New Zealand sent over a big team so I go to mix with hockey players and all sorts of other athletes."
Bobbi will soon be mixing with Russians. In July she will compete at the FINA World Championships in Kazan. The Year 11 will complete her studies via correspondence as she will be heading to Russia weeks in advance to train.
Bobbi's brother, Jacques is Year 13 and attends Lindisfarne College in Hastings. He is a more than useful swimmer in his own right.
In 2014, he came first in the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the National Age Group championships.
That earned him a place in the New Zealand team to compete at the Victoria International Age Group Championships in Melbourne. Competing against some of the Australian Olympians, Jacques placed second in the 100m breastroke and was a close fourth in the 200m breastroke.
At the Open Nationals recently, Jacques won the 50m and 100m breastroke finals and completed personal best times.
Jacques has been selected by New Zealand Swimming to attend a breaststroke swimming camp in Cairns, Australia in June. Bobbi desires even more travel than just a trip across the Tasman though.
"To this day I am under a second away from qualifying for the Junior Commonwealth Games in Samoa. I intend to keep on working hard and hope to represent New Zealand at the highest level."
Holly Fowler is standing tall among her peers.
Next month the Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) Head Girl and three of her schoolmates will represent New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman U19 Netball Tournament in Rotorua.
For defender Holly, this will be her fourth straight year in the New Zealand Secondary Schools (NZSS) side, a remarkable achievement. Holly also captained this team last year as a Year 12 player.
The three other MAGS students in this team are shooter Maia Wilson, centre-wing attack Alanis Toia-Tigafua and fellow defender Caitlin Dowden. A fifth MAGS student, Elle Temu, alongside Alanis and Caitlin, has been picked in Netball New Zealand’s and High Performance New Zealand’s Pathway to Podium programme.
Holly has also been selected in the U21 National Development Squad. “I was lucky enough to be named as one of eight players in this squad last year,” Holly said, “and they recently selected another eight girls to be part of it this year.”
Holly is also starting her second season captaining the MAGS Premier Netball team.
Needless to say she’s not sitting around idle too often.
“I am extremely busy this year – with both school and with netball! But I am just so fortunate to have so much support from everyone to help me out, so I am really lucky with that.”
This includes taking the academic side of her life seriously too. “I think it is very important to also get an education behind you. Sport is great, but I know that I’m just one injury away from it all ending so it’s important to have a back-up plan.”
In February she travelled to Sydney with the Northern Mystics squad to take part in the ANZ Championship’s pre-season Summer Shootout tournament. “I was fortunate to travel over there with the Mystics, as a replacement for one girl [Kayla Cullen] who got sick.”
Her goal is to play elite netball. “I definitely want to play for the Mystics one day, and hopefully one day make the Silver Ferns.”
What about role models? “One player who was really helpful when I was with the Mystics in Sydney was [English international] Serena Guthrie, she was really helpful and taught me a lot more about the wing defence position.”
“I’ve also always looked up to [Silver Ferns] Kayla Cullen and Casey Kopua.”
Having spent three years in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Netball team, Holly has already played against several players now playing in the ANZ Championship.
“I played alongside Whitney Souness who is now with the Central Pulse, with Jamie Lee Price who is now playing with the Tactix, with Malia Paseka who is with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and also in Year 10 there was Temalisi Fakahokotau, who is the Mystics defender. Jamie, Malia and Temalisi are all in the Fast 5 Ferns.”
The Trans-Tasman U19 tournament, from 26-28 May, is a four-team tournament, with the NZSS team up against Aotearoa Maori and two teams selected from the Australian U19 Squad; Australia Gold and Australia Green. The format is a double round-robin series over the three days.
The New Zealand team was recently selected from a trial group of 24 players. Holly said that the team re-assembles in a fortnight for a training camp to prepare for the Rotorua tournament, when the captain will also be named.
Holly said there are a bunch of players returning from the team last year. Year 10 Wellington East Girls’ College Goal shooter Tiana Metuarau is youngest player selected.
The NZSS team is:
Mila Reuelu-Buchanan (Wellington East Girls’ College)
Caitlin Dowden (Mount Albert Grammar School)
Courtney Elliott (Tai Wananga Ki Ruakura)
Colleen Faleafaga (St Mary’s College, Wellington)
Holly Fowler (Mount Albert Grammar School)
Sydney Fraser (St Kentigern College)
Amorangi Malesala (St Kentigern College)
Tiana Metuarau (Wellington East Girls’ College)
Michelle Parkes (Wellington East Girls’ College)
Kimiora Poi (Napier Girls’ High School)
Alanis Toia-Tigafua (Mount Albert Grammar School)
Maia Wilson (Mount Albert Grammar School
Abbey Franklin (Nelson Girls’ High School)
Lily Marshall (St Margaret’s College)
Jessica Shaw (Marian College)
Diahn Strickland (Te Rito Manukura)
Jack Beaumont loves a challenge.
So when his coach suggested that he enter last weekend’s New Zealand Mountain Running Championships in Nelson the current New Zealand Secondary Schools 2000m Steeplechase and National Junior Men’s 3000m Steeplechase champion jumped at the chance.
“That was the first time I have ever run a mountain running race, and it was really good, I really enjoyed it,” Jack, a Year 13 student at Central Southland College in Winton, said.
If you’re on the edge of Nelson’s city center and you look up, you’re looking at the Grampians. An excursion up to the top of these hills is not for the faint hearted. The junior men’s race up and back on Saturday was 9.3 km and Jack’s winning time was 41 minutes 40 seconds.
“I’ve found that I’ve done well running up hills and doing cross country more so than I do on the track, so my coach suggested that I’d be good in this event so I decided to give it a go.” Jack said.
His strength was the ascent, powering away on the climb and holding off his rivals on the descent back into town.
Now he hopes to make the New Zealand Junior team for the World Mountain Running Championships, which are in Wales at the end of September.
“I’d really like to go and I’ve put my expression of interest into the event. But they will look at the main cross country season and make the New Zealand team selections after that.”
The New Zealand Secondary School Cross Country Championships are in Dunedin in June and the New Zealand Cross Country Championships are in Christchurch in July.
New Zealand has pedigree in world mountain running. Jonathan Wyatt was a six-time world champion (between 1998-2006) and Melissa Moon (2001 and 2003) and Kate Mcllory (2005) are former women’s world champions in an event that has been traditionally dominated by Italians and Austrians. Wyatt and Mcllroy both won when it was staged in Wellington 10 years ago.
Jack’s next event is the Gore half marathon in a month. “I did this last year, so my aim is to improve my time there. Then there are the two cross country races in Dunedin and Christchurch.”
This will be Jack’s third time competing in the New Zealand Secondary School Cross Country Championship. He finished second as a junior in 2011 and in the middle of the field as a Year 11 student in the senior race in 2013.
Jack has come off a busy few months training for and competing in track events.
He said he runs track events from 400m up to 5000m but “the steeplechase is my main track event at the moment. I’ve won three New Zealand titles.”
He recently won the New Zealand U20 3000m steeplechase at the national track and field championships in Wellington, and event he won the national U18 title in last year, while later this year he’ll be defending his national secondary school 2000 title which he won as a Year 12 athlete in Wanganui last December.
"I will be trying to get the New Zealand record in the secondary schools steeplechase this year; I was 8 seconds off it last year so hopefully I can take that much off. I did 5.52 and the record’s 6 minutes flat.”
How often does Jack train? “Six times a week. I’ll typically have two long runs a week, two speed sessions, one race-day and then on Monday a light jog and a few sprints.”
Outside of running, Jack found time last year to play hockey and to get NCEA Level 2 with Merit.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand