Dick Quax was a world beating runner throughout the 1970s, winning a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games 5000m and breaking the world record a year later at the same distance, and setting sizzling international standard times in other events from the 1500m to the marathon.
Last weekend at the national track and field championships in Dunedin, Dick’s son Theo grabbed an eye-catching win in the Men’s U18 1500m, smashing his personal best in the process.
Having just started Year 12 at Macleans College, Theo beat a pair of well-known secondary school athletes into second and third place, Isiah Priddey from Hamilton Boys’ High School and James Uhlenberg from Sacred Heart College.
Isiah and James are also both Year 12 runners, and they also came first and third respectively in the Men’s U18 3000m last week in Dunedin.
As well as winning the U18 1500m race, Theo was thrilled his time. “That was a 6-second PB.” he said.
“Leading up to it, I had run a recent 1.55 minute 800m and had run a 1500m at the Auckland Track Challenge but my time wasn’t great as I was really tired, being in the middle of my school camp.”
“I knew I was going to improve on my best time but neither Dad nor I thought I would lower it by 6 seconds.”
How did the race pan out?
“I talked to my dad beforehand about it, and the whole strategy for me was to basically sit around second or third the entire race and when Isaiah accelerated, to hold on to him and hopefully have the legs at the end to kick him.”
“I always knew it was a challenge taking the likes of Isaiah and James down, I was confident that I could do it, so it was great it came together like it did.”
Theo said that for now he’s concentrating on the 800m and the 1500m. “I run a bit of the 3000m as well, but not as much as the likes of Isaiah and James.”
As a Year 11 student, Theo finished fourth in the senior 1500m at last December’s NZSS Track and Field Championships in Timaru.
Theo was one of three Macleans College athletes – all Year 12s - to compete at the National Championships in Dunedin, alongside Flynn Palmer and Kamal Patwalia.
Flynn finished second in the U18 800m, just a nose behind winner Jonno Ansley of Sacred Heart College.
Kharmal finished second in the U18 long jump, to Arnold Fage of Hawera High School in Taranaki.
“I started running at primary school and winning most years until I encountered Flynn and started coming second! It’s really good to have him as we always push each other.”
Naturally, Theo is coached by his father.
“My dad’s my fulltime coach,” Theo explained. “I used to run a lot with him, but he came down with throat cancer so he slowed down for a bit. But now he’s back into it again – instead of running sometimes he bikes along next to me.”
Theo said he also plays rugby, but this year it’s looking like that will take a back seat so he can concentrate on running throughout the winter and do cross country and keep the training up.
The Auckland Regional Secondary School Champions are Theo’s next big meet. They are at Mt Smart on Wednesday 23 March.
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