The following interview and article was written and presented for College Sport Wellington in early April 2023.
Two golds and a silver by a whisker in the space of a few hours represented a satisfying day out for St Pat’s Town’s Ryan Mallon at this past weekend’s North Island Secondary School Track and Field Championships in Palmerston North.
Ryan, St Pat’s Town’s recent 100th McEvedy Shield event captain and a deputy head prefect, won both the Senior Boys Long Jump and Triple Jump titles and was second in the 110m Hurdles on Saturday.
Winning the triple jump was particularly pleasing , given he had a clash of events and had to head over to compete in the hurdles midway through the triple jump competition.
“The scheduled clash meant that I would only be able to do about four of six jumps before running off to the start of the hurdles and competing in that and then come straight back to triple and do my final jumps,” said Ryan “It was pretty chaotic!”
He was just pipped at the tape in the 110m hurdles, which was a straight final. “I just scraped a second by 0.01s in a photo finish, that dip across the line really helped me.” The 15.27s he ran was a personal best.
As it transpired, he was still in the lead in his other live event but wasn’t assured of winning. “It was on my last jump that I pulled out a 13.34m.” The second placed finisher’s best was 12.54m, so an 80cm win for Ryan.
Ryan’s triple jump personal best is 13.59m, which he achieved in winning bronze at last December’s NZSS Track and Field Championships in Taranaki. This was achieved on his final jump. “In the final round I was pushed into fourth and I had to pull out a PB jump to re-take bronze. It was by far one of the most nerve-wracking but clutch moments of my life.”
The Senior Boys Long Jump on Saturday was at the start of the schedule, so Ryan could stay focused throughout on that event.
“My winning jump was midway through the competition. It took me a while to get into the groove but I was fairly confident knowing that I could take my time.”
He also had his training partner and St Pat’s Town teammate Riley Jarvis competing alongside him in the long jump. “We have been training together for so many years and we were kind of going in as a duo to support each other and hopefully take a place.” Riley finished seventh on the day.
Ryan later joined Riley in the Wellington 4 x 100m relay team, alongside St Bernard’s College’s Ben Maluschnig and Crimson School’s Josh Lotsu, and the team finished second.
Ryan now takes a well-deserved break from athletics, with the next major meet to look forward to being the 50th NZSS Track & Field Championships are being held in Christchurch in December. In the meantime, he hopes to play on the wing or at fullback in the St Pat’s First XV rugby team.
He also reflected on some other memorable meets this summer, including winning the U18 title at last month’s New Zealand Track & Field Championships. “That was huge for me, when I first started athletics I never thought I would become a national champion.” He was also second in the triple jump at that meet.
“Being my school’s athletics captain at this year’s 100th McEvedy Shield was a big highlight; I have been in the team since year 9 so that was my fifth and last McEvedy.”
He won three McEvedy events this year, backing up the four he won in 2022 and breaking a record held since 1994 (12.95m) in the U16 Triple Jump with a new mark of 13.35m.
He also set his long jump PB of 6.77m this summer.
Mallon is always thankful for the support of his family, some of whom are based in Palmerston North.
“I always have strong support from my family and my dad always tells me go to these competitions and compete against yourself and don’t focus on what anyone else is doing and be proud of what you can do and how you perform.”
Another huge reason for his success is the input and support of his coach Leigh Lidstone, also a P.E. teacher at St Pat’s Town.
“He was my older brother Josh’s coach. That helped spark my interest in athletics. In year 8 when the school had pre-season trainings I would attend those and ever since then Mr Lidstone’s been my coach and he is dedicated and awesome.”
Josh was a senior in Town’s McEvedy team in 2018 in his final year, and Ryan started at St Pat’s Town in 2019.
There were several other St Pat’s Town athletes at the NISS Championships this weekend, including Nelson Tiumalu who won gold in the IB Discus.
Other gold medallists from Wellington were Faith Sola in the JG Discus, Connor Sharkey in the JB Hammer, Wiremu Reriti in the JB High Jump, Samisoni Hewitt in the SB High Jump, Keegan Sharkey in the IB Javelin and Harrison Stratford in the Junior Boys Para 200m.
Scots College Year 11 athlete Hugo Jones didn’t let pouring rain dampen his delight in winning his first major NZSS athletics title in Inglewood on Saturday.
Hugo won the Senior Boys High Jump, beating his nearest two rivals on countback as rain got steadier throughout the competition.
All three medallists, including second placed Samasoni Hewitt from St Pat’s Silverstream, had a best jump of 1.90m.
“I was the winner on countback as the other two guys had knocked over bars in previous attempts, and I had a clean sheet until we hit the 1.90m level, “Hugo explained. “We then had a rain break, hoping for it to clear at least a small bit but it wasn’t going to, so we all went back out and unsuccessfully tried to go higher.”
“I went into the meet with a goal of clearing two metres, but the increasing heavy rain put paid to that so to win at that height was great. I have been really happy with my form, and I recently cleared my current personal best of 1.96m and have been training hard to improve this.”
Conditions were not too dissimilar to September’s re-scheduled College Sport Wellington Athletics meet at Newtown Park that saw Hugo break the Intermediate Boys High Jump record that had stood since 2009. Hugo leapt 1.91m that day.
Of the other two jumpers who won medals, Samisoni Hewitt from Silverstream is also finishing year 11 and Tia Wynyard from Kaiapoi High School in Canterbury is year 12 – so there could be a healthy rivalry over the next year or two at school athletics level.
Hugo praised his coach, Mike Ritchie. “He is an incredible coach and has helped me so much over the past two years or so in helping me get to where I am.”
This was his second school nationals after his first two years ago (cancelled last year) as a Year 9 saw him narrowly miss out on a medal.
He also had the ever-reliable support of his father on Saturday, whilst his older brother also competed in the Senior Boys Long Jump.
Hugo has been high jumping since year 4 in his first year competing at school athletics. “I managed to win that, then won and kept improving zone and regional wins each year since.”
As well as high jump, Hugo’s other sport of note is floorball.
There is little time for Hugo to rest on his laurels.
On Thursday he is off to Tauranga for a training camp and then to compete in his next competition on Saturday, the Christmas Classic.
Then on to several other of the ‘Classics’ meets over the summer, such as in Whanganui, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay. “I have a very packed school holidays, with several meets planned.”
So that’s also some chances to meet his readjusted goal. “My new goal is now jump 2.05m, so hopefully I get that soon and that would be pretty cool.
Hugo was one of six College Sport Wellington region athletes to win gold medals over the weekend, with Wellington College’s Corran Hanning winning two events to make it seven first placed finishes overall for capital athletes.
Hanning won both the Para Senior Discus and Shot Put events, setting a meet record in the latter and also finishing sixth in the Open Senior Boys Shot Put.
Four of the other five were also in the field, Upper Hutt College’s Josh Tia won the Para Junior Boys Shot Put. Tia was also second in two other Para events, in the Junior Boys 100m - with him and the winner both setting new NZSS records - and second in the Junior Boys Long Jump.
St Pat’s Silverstream’s Keegan Sharkey was the Junior Boys Javelin winner, winning the event on his final throw.
Hutt Valley High School’s Mikayla Sola won gold in the Senior Girls Hammer. Her winning throw of 45.34m was just 13cm further than the second placed athlete. Sola, this year’s College Sport Wellington Female Athlete of the Year, was also second in the Senior Girls Discus.
Of note, Sola’s younger brother Xavier was third for Rongotai College in two events; the Junior Boys Shot Put and Junior Bous Hammer.
Finally, Wellington’s sole gold medallist on the track was won in the blue-chip Senior Boys 100m on Sunday afternoon by Hutt International Boys’ Tyrone Trego.
Trego scorched down the track to win the 100m in 10.89s, ahead of two Canterbury schools second and third place getters. St Pat’s Silverstream’s Oliver Krijnen was fifth and Paraparaumu College’s Ben Lambert was sixth.
Other Wellington athletes to win medals over the weekend (18 in total) were: Poppy Healy (Wellington Girls’ College) second in the Junior Girls 800m, Alex Hewitt (Silverstream) second in the Senior Boys Hammer, Heath Abbott (Wellington College) second in the Junior Boys Hammer, Nelson Timalu (St Pat’s Town) second in the Junior Boys Shot Put, Ryan Mallon (St Pat’s Town) third in the Senior Boys Triple Jump and Jaguun Gunregjav-Willers (St Pat’s Town) third in the Junior Boys 2000m Steeplechase.
Year 11 Papamoa College athlete Jaxon Woolley’s goal is to compete for New Zealand at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.
Jaxon has just completed an outstanding summer in athletics, breaking sprinting records in theT38 category he competes in.
Jaxon has an underlying condition called Polymicrogyria, this is a rare condition where there are too many small folds in the brain.
Polymicrogyria is a condition characterised by abnormal development of the brain before birth. The surface of the brain normally has many ridges or folds, called gyri. In people with polymicrogyria, the brain develops too many folds, and the folds are unusually small.
Jaxon has one of the more severe forms of this condition as it affects his entire brain rather than just one area. Bilateral forms of polymicrogyria tend to cause more severe neurological problems.
“Because of his conditions Jaxon experiences Spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Global Developmental Delay, problems with speech and swallowing, behavioural difficulties including ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder,” explained his mum Tash Bowden.
“Individuals with his condition are often severely disabled, so for Jaxon to be experiencing reasonably mild symptoms and achieving the things that he is doing is beyond incredible,”
We caught up with Jaxon to find out more about his record-breaking achievements this summer and his goals.
You were recently at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Hastings. Can you please give us a brief run-down on what events you entered and your highlights?
Earlier this year, in January, you broke the 100m T38 National record – what was your time, can you run us through that achievement? Was it a surprise, or were you targeting this?
I have now broken the record multiple times this year. I was definitely aiming for that; I am long listed for the Commonwealth Games so have been trying to get my times closer to the qualifying although Paris Paralympics is my goal in two years’ time.
I broke the NZ record for the 100m at the Tauranga Twilight meet on January 1st with a time of 12:79s, then again at the Capital Classic meet in Wellington on the 4th of February with a time of 12.63s, again at the Waikato Bay of Plenty Championships the following week with a time of 12.48s, and most recently at the New Zealand Track and Field Nationals in Hastings with a time of 12.42s.
Have you also been competing in other meets this summer, such as the ‘Classics’ events?
I have competed at the Potts Classic in Hastings (Would have been a NZ record but didn’t count due to wind assisted), Capital Classic in Wellington (see above), Sir Graeme Douglass Continental Bronze International Meet in Auckland (also wind assisted but would have been a NZ record at the time) and am competing tonight at the Daikin Night of 5s event in Auckland.
You have recently started long jump as well as sprinting?
I have just started doing the long jump this year and have already broken the U17 NZ record for T38 and am aiming to take out the U20 and Open men’s records by next season.
How long have you been doing athletics?
I have only been doing it properly with a coach for three years (this is my third season), but six years in total as I did club athletics at Riverhead in Auckland initially. I then moved to Bays Athletics and begun training with Hamish Meacheam. At the beginning of 2021 my family moved to Tauranga and I started training with Kerry Hill who is my current coach.
Have you competed previously in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track & Field Championships, and are these on your radar for the end of this year in Inglewood?
Yes, I competed at New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships in 2019 in Wellington, and again in 2020 in Tauranga where I set the current the current championship records in the 100m, 200m and shot put. It was unfortunate that the championships were cancelled last year. I will be attending them this year in Inglewood and plan to better all the current records and add to it the long jump, and also before William Stedman was re-classified to a T36 he set the 400m record in the T38 classification, so I hope to beat his record for that too.
What are your future goals?
My goal is to compete at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
I got long-listed for this years Commonwealth Games which was unexpected, I have competed well this season although I’m still a way off the qualifying time for this which is 11.60s.
I would like to compete at some International Grand Prix events and at the World Para Athletics Championships, which is the same year as the Paralympics.
I would also love to compete at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships, which were postponed last year and this year due to COVID, as I would like to be the World Junior Champion.
Who are the other T38 athletes in your races; do they have the same or similar disabilities?
Everyone who is a T38 has cerebral palsy, we go through a rigorous process of testing to ensure we are in the correct classification and that we are competing against those with similar disabilities. We first get national classification and then international classification.
What challenges do you have on meet-day, preparing for your races, during the race and afterwards?
Well, the Cerebral palsy really affects the coordination of my hands, so there’s no way I can do up my shoelaces on my own! But in terms of race day breakfast, packing my bag, getting to the event early and then going through my warmups and drills that would be similar to an able-bodied athlete. With the exception that I probably need to be warmer and do a bit more stretching over and above due to the spasticity in my muscles.
How does their support of your family spur you on and motivate you?
My family is amazing. My mum was a 10m platform diver and represented NZ all over the world and my step-dad was an international runner (one of the top in the world in his day), they are both pretty competitive and they understand what it is like to compete and to experience success and they back me 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. My little brother and sister are usually at the track cheering me on as well.
And your coach? How often and where do you train?
My Coach is Kerry Hill, coach to five of the fastest seven Kiwis ever, Gus Nketia, Joseph Millar, Kodi Harman, James Dolphin, and Matt Brown, plus World Champs relay representatives David Falealili and James Mortimer, and World Youth 200m finalist Graeme Read, and three national women’s beach sprint champs. Seven Olympians have emerged from his squads at sprints, jumps, middle distances, decathlon, heptathlon, and bobsleigh. I am the first para-athlete that Kerry has coached and I think he’s really enjoying it. It’s a new challenge for him.
I train at Tauranga Domain three times per week and at the Adams Centre for High Performance two to three times per week. I am the only para-athlete they’ve ever had!
Are you aligned to an athletics club?
I belong to Athletics Tauranga – I just love this club, they are so supportive of me and really make a big deal out of my achievements. This helps and motivates me to do even better. I am proud to represent them.
Away from athletics, what other sports or hobbies do you follow or participate in?
I go to The Cave Papamoa at least twice a week! This is my favourite hobby; it is New Zealand’s best Virtual Reality and Simulated Racing studio. The guys there all know me and support my running as well, I think they are going to sponsor me and I want to work there for my job. I also have a sweet racing set-up at home for my gaming. I do also like bike riding, go kart racing, and going on adventures with my family.
Thank you and good luck for the future.
Story by Steven White for College Sport Media, March 2022.
Earlier this season, Zoe Hobbs broke the New Zealand all-comers Women’s 100m record, the former New Plymouth Girls’ High School student clocking 11.15 seconds to break a record that had stood since 1990.
Hobbs is part of a group of super-competitive women’s sprinters pushing each other on to faster times and personal best performances.
There is now a new generation coming through, headed by Auckland’s Talia Van Rooyen, who at just 15 is turning out some quick times to match those of Hobbs and others before her.
Most recently, last Thursday on day one of the College Sport Auckland Championships at Mt Smart Stadium, Talia clocked a personal best 200m time of 24.61 - running into a 2.4 metres per second headwind - to break Nadia Evans’ 2020 record of 24.70.
This follows on from an outstanding meet at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Hastings the previous weekend, in which Talia won the Women’s U18 100m in 11.50.
This would have been a national record, if not for a 3.1 m/s tailwind, which ruled the time invalid. If legal this would have broken Briar Toop’s 32-year-old U17 and U18 record of 11.55 and Zoe Hobbs’ U19 and U20 record of 11.53.
Talia won the U18 100m final comfortably ahead of Manawatu’s Collette sisters, Chayille and Addira, who followed her to the tape in second and third.
The year 11 student at City Impact Church School on the North Shore, also won the U18 Women’s 100m hurdles in a personal best time of 13.84.
Needless to say, Talia was happy with her performance. “I was very happy with those results,” she said, “they were unexpected to be honest. I was just annoyed about the illegal wind for the 100m final, but there is always next time to keep improving.”
Talia then joined the Auckland Women’s U18 4 x 100m relay team, along with Amelie Fairclough (16), Katelyn Quay-Chin (15) and Marielle Venida (16), to help set a New Zealand under 17 record of 46.77 breaking the New Zealand team of Amy Robinson, Talia Horgan, Abby Goldie and Zoe Hobbs time of 47.29 set in Sydney in 2013.
“Overall, I’m stoked with my times. It gives me the confidence knowing that my legs can even run that fast.”
It has been a busy summer of sprinting for Talia. “I’ve also competed in Cooks Classic, Capital Classic and Sir Graham Douglas International. They were all great competitions to compete in and I got great personal bests as well.
“My highlight for all three has to be running with those older girls and being able to run next to them.”
Talia is looking to round out her successful season with the College Sport Auckland Champs and the popular Night of 5s meet, on Wednesday 23 March at AUT Millennium in Auckland.
She then hopes to compete in the Oceania Championships in Queensland in June and possibly the World U20 Athletics Championships in August in Colombia, which she qualified for in Hastings.
At the end of the year there is the NZSS Championships in Inglewood, where she will be competing in the Senior Girls grade for the first time.
She won the Junior Girls 80m Hurdles and was third in the Junior Girls 100m as a year 9 at the most recent NZSS Championships meet in Tauranga in December 2020.
Talia moved to New Zealand from South Africa in August 2015, having been born in Pretoria and raised in a town called Heidelberg.
Her family has an athletics background.
“Both my parents did athletics so you could say they already had that natural running ‘brains’. My mum used to coach in South Africa where I would just watch, but I started competitively in year 7. I started performing decently good times when I was 12.
“They have always coached me, but only around four years ago my dad started coaching me more seriously, it’s a lot nicer to have my parents as my coaches especially for events nowadays where you can only have your coach near you and for me that would be my parents, which is really nice.”
Talia used to play hockey, but her sole sporting focus now is understandably athletics.
“I used to play Hockey quite competitively but lost my love and passion for it, so now I focus on Athletics.
“I train around 6 times a week, and 95 percent of my training is track work and the other 5 percent would be rehab or recovery.”
What is a single meet highlight so far? “I would have to say my races at the New Zealand Nationals this year because it was my first ever Nationals and coming home with three Golds is something I can’t complain about. And then even getting very close to the National record was also a highlight. I do have another year to try and break it.”
Looking ahead, Talia is eyeing the shorter sprinting distances. “I’m probably going to continue specialising in the 100m and the 100m Hurdles events. They work well together, so hopefully they can become my main events.”
Talia has a bright future on the track that hopefully is not slowing down anytime soon.
Story by Steven White for College Sport Media, March 2022.
At the most recent New Zealand Secondary School Track and Field Championships in Tauranga in December 2020, Whanganui High School claimed five medals in the hurdles events, which at the time that was more hurdles than the school owned.
After turning heads in the wind and rain in Wellington in December 2019, the school had a great meet the following year, with more medals also won in the relays.
Whanganui High School had 14 hurdlers qualified and ready to compete in Inglewood last December as part of a 30 plus team, and a big 5-year reunion with current and past athletes was planned. Unfortunately, these were cancelled because of Covid.
One of those athletes, Maggie Jones, has returned to WHS this year for her last year at school and is one of Aotearoa’s most promising young women athletes, specialising in one of the toughest events on the track.
This past weekend at the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Hastings, Maggie won her favoured race, the Women’s U20 400m hurdles. She was also second in the Women's U20 100m hurdles.
“My coach Greg gave me a game-plan and I stuck to it, which is what won me the race,” said Maggie, who won with a personal best 400m hurdles time of 64.34.
“I have raced the two girls who were either side of me a few times previously and both go out hard. So the race plan was to give them their faster starts and to relax and build into the race over the first 200-300m. I think I can kick quite well in races when people are ahead of me, so with about 150m to go I took off and overtook them and finished strongly.
“I was really happy to get a New Zealand title in my first year as a senior, as well as winning a major race going up a distance from the school race distance of 300m to 400m.
“I was also pleased to win silver in the 100m race the next day because we had a bunch of really good hurdlers in the field.”
The previous week she won a 100m hurdles race in Christchurch.
Maggie agrees that the 400m hurdles is one of the hardest track events . “I’m not a huge fan of running the 400m flat race, so adding some hurdles to jump over it is not a great combination!”
Nevertheless, she enjoys it and says that the longer race is what she is best suited to. “I’m not as powerful a sprinter, but it is good to be able to do both for technique and to get race experience.”
The North Island Secondary School Championships have been cancelled, but she is interested in starting heptathlon and is looking at competing at the 2022 New Zealand U18 And U20 Combined Events Championships on 26 March in Auckland.
Asked for a couple of highlights thus far in her career, Maggie said winning the Junior Girls 300m Hurdles at Wellington at the 2019 NZSS Nationals was memorable.
“That was my first big win, and I got to celebrate it with my two Whanganui High School teammates who were also in the race, with Paris Munro who came third and Casie Glentworth who was fourth. We also came second in the relays not long after.
“Also winning the NZSS Nationals 300m race in 2020 and winning last week’s U20 New Zealand 400m hurdles title were satisfying for me.”
Maggie also has a balanced sporting life, playing basketball and netball for her school in the winter and cricket in the summer as well as athletics.
Next year she is hoping to win an athletics scholarship in the USA, unsure exactly what she wants to study after high school, but the sciences interest her.
Maggie trains with a big group of athletes at the Whanganui High School Athletics Club, a competitive, supportive group, from year nines and beginners through to the seniors.
As well as Maggie, Nat Kirk is a leading Senior Boys hurdler at the school at the moment.
A big factor in the Whanganui High School Athletics Club’s success is the input of coach Greg Fromont, who started coaching at the school five and a half years ago. Greg’s part time role is to provide a fundamentals and conditioning pathway for all sports students.
With a background in athletics coaching but also in fundamental skills, a key mantra from the start was making sure all students have a basic grounding in movement skills, stability, flexibility and co-ordination.
Greg said having fun and fostering a welcoming, family atmosphere is important. “There must be more to the group than just their performance on the track,” Greg added.
“Students from other sports can come into the athletics conditioning and use it to prepare for their other sports. Hurdles is good because it’s a great example of all the fundamentals being put together in one event.
“We started with one athlete in the athletics group and now regularly have 40 at a training session.
“Our first two national champions both came to the training group to prepare for their winter sports of hockey, and within three years both had won NZSS titles over 400m and 1500m respectively while it was still their second sport. Rebecca Baker, the 1500m champion is now part of Hockey New Zealand’s High-Performance programme. Both still come back in the University holidays and help with coaching and are an inspiration for our young athletes.”
Interview and story by Steven White for College Sport Media, March 2022.
Hannah Gapes (John Paul College) powers to a convincing victory in the Senior Girls race at the 2021 NZSS Cross Country Championships. PHOTO by Nesport Photography - more photos at www.nesport.co.nz
Hannah Gapes was confident that she could win, but she surprised herself just as much as her competitors with the ease of her victory in the Senior Girls race at the 47th New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships in Hawera this past Saturday.
In cold, wet conditions overhead and a heavy, muddy course underfoot, John Paul College, Rotorua year 13 runner Hannah blitzed the field to win by almost a minute to second placed Bella Earl (Whangārei Girls' High School) and with Chloe Browne (St Cuthbert’s College) finishing third.
“I had a plan to go out hard, but I was expecting people to come with me, but they didn’t, so I just kept going and extending my lead,” she said.
Hannah quickly established a lead on the first lap of two. She led by 25 seconds after the first 2km lap and more than doubled that by the end.
Was she aware she was so far ahead?
“I am the NZ U20 5000m track champion [from earlier this year] so I had raced against some of the other competitors, and I knew pretty much how they would run their races. My plan was to push hard from the start and see what happened.
“I had quick looks behind when I was running around the corners and when I was going through for the second lap and I looked back and I couldn’t see anyone. I was thinking to myself have I gone out too fast, am I doing this wrong?
“Then when spectators started clapping me in and congratulating me over the last 600m I knew I had done it!”
How did the conditions come into it?
“I compete in the Tough Guy and Gal Challenge event - which is an extreme mud run. So I was kind of prepared and confident going into it, I like the mud I guess!”
Conditions changed on race eve.
“I wanted a speedy run on a fast course, and it was looking like it the day before when we were walking the course. But then overnight forecast rain arrived and the whole course changed, and it turned into a mud run.”
Hannah had two John Paul College teammates competing in her race, with Poppy Martin finishing 32nd and and Jessica Lamb 50th. There were 98 starters in the Senior Girls race and a total of 748 runners from 130 schools taking part, competing in six races on Saturday.
Hannah backed up her win with another strong run in the team’s relay on Sunday, an inter-regional event. Competing for Waikato-Bay of Plenty, she stormed through in the last leg to lift to team from eighth to third. Auckland A won and Southland were second.
“I gave it all on my 2km relay leg. It was really exciting for the team because none of them had ever won any national medals.”
A New Zealand secondary schools cross country team has been selected after this weekend, but this is a paper team only as the ongoing covid climate (pre-Wednesday this week) has meant that our athletes will not be competing in Australia like that they have in past years.
Hannah thanked her coach Jason Cameron for helping her do so well this weekend.
“My coach Jason prepared me really well for this, his smart training coaching is preparing me to compete for the future and is definitely what has helped me. He lives in Rotorua and runs with me which is also really beneficial.”
Hannah is part of a five-strong training squad. Her favourite run in Rotorua is in the Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest.
This is Hannah’s third major race win in the past six months, having won the NZSS Senior Girls 1500m title last December and then backed that up with the NZ U20 Women’s 5000m win.
She said her 1500m win was borne out of disappointment at missing out on gold in the Senior Girls 3000m race two days prior.
“I came second in the 3000m and that made me determined to give it my all and it was a shock for me to win that race.”
She backed that up with third in the 1500m in the New Zealand Championships before winning the 12-lap race.
“I prefer the long-distance events, and if you make a mistake in the 1500m it can go very wrong, so I had been training for the 5000m. That was similar to the cross country in that I took an early lead and kept extending it as the race developed – that is kind where the plan for the cross country came from.”
Hannah said the competitive nature of her rivals is helping to bring out the best in her, many of them being upper North Island based too.
When did Hannah discover she could run fast?
“I was always really active growing up and I played as many sports as I could. The cross country was part of the primary school programme and I fell in love with winning and the thrill which comes with it.”
Running is her main sport, but she still plays tennis in the summer and does some mountain biking, and she used to play hockey and do rock climbing.
Despite the selected NZSS team not going to Australia, Hannah has some big cross-country races coming up that she is back training for.
“I have the North Islands in two weeks in Taupo and then Nationals coming up in early August in Dunedin and that leads on to selection for the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia, next February.”
The NZSS Track and Field Championships are back in Taranaki this year, in Inglewood and scheduled from 3-5 December.
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