Last weekend at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui, Onehunga High School’s Alex Hyland won the New Zealand Youth Women’s Heptathlon title at the New Zealand Combined Events Championships.
Alex finished second behind a visiting Australian athlete but first among 10 New Zealanders who were competing for the multi-discipline national title. View the results here
At the same meeting, 2015 Wellington East Girls’ College school-leaver Phoebe Edwards won the New Zealand Junior Women’s Heptathlon title and 2015 Mairehau High School (Christchurch) school-leaver Alex Mander won the New Zealand Junior Men’s Decathlon title.
Youth women’s Heptathlon winner Alex Hyland, was the 2014 NZSS Junior Girls’ High Jump champion and last December at the secondary school nationals in Timaru she finished second in the Senior Girls’ High Jump to High Jump and Long Jump winner Briana Stephenson from Napier Girls’ HS. Alex also finished fourth in the Senior Girls’ 100m hurdles final.
College Sport Media caught up with Alex about her sport and what’s coming up in 2016.
Congratulations on the win last weekend. Were you working towards this as a goal over summer?
Winning is always the goal but I had set targets for each event that I was working to meet and a set overall points goal which I achieved. Mostly you’re just trying to do the best you can and gain personal bests.
Had you previously competed in many heptathlons?
I had competed in two heptathlons previously for the North Island championships but only as an Under 16, which means I was only running 80m hurdles as you don’t move to the 100m until you’re under 18. So this was my first proper heptathlon and first Combined Events Nationals.
What is the format of heptathlons?
Heptathlons are what the women compete in and it is a two day competition consisting of seven track and field events, 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, 200m sprint, Long Jump, Javelin and 800m run. For the men it’s different, they compete in the Decathlon which is ten events over two days.
What events did you do well in over the weekend?
My strongest events are the Hurdles and the High Jump, which score you big points and helps. But the highlight was getting a PB in the Long Jump and finishing my first proper heptathlon.
What’s coming up over the remainder of this year? What are your goals throughout 2016 and beyond?
I’ve got New Zealand Athletics Nationals in Dunedin in just over a week where I’ll be competing in the High Jump, Hurdles and 200m, and then after that the school competitions will start. I will continue to train for the Heptathlon over the winter but there are very few Heptathlon competitions in NZ. I will also be working towards my last school Athletics Nationals where I’ll be competing in the High Jump and Hurdles and possibly the 200m because they don’t offer Heptathlon at school nationals. I will also be starting to figure out what I’ll be doing next year after school and where I’ll be going in athletics.
How did you get into Heptathlon? Have you been doing athletics since you were young?
My coach, Brent Booker, used to be a Decathlete and is very keen on getting all the athletes he trains and who are willing into combined events, which is how I started. I’ve also been doing athletics for a long time, joining my first athletics club when I was three and I started competing when I was seven at the junior athletics competitions in Auckland.
At present, how often are you training and how much is fitness based and how much skills/technique focused? Have you had any injury setbacks?
At the moment I train 2-3 times a week depending on what competitions are coming up. Mostly training is more focused on skills and technique as I have a reasonably good fitness base due to me riding my bike to school and playing other sports. As of now I am in good shape but I was injured this time last year with a hip strain which really affected my performance. It was also really annoying because it came about during one of the busiest times in the season.
Home country UK athlete Jessica Ennis was one of the stars of the 2012 London Olympics, winning Heptathlon gold – do you follow her achievements?
I do really enjoy watching Jessica Ennis compete, she isn’t very tall but she is incredibly strong and passionate about her sport. I also really enjoy watching Ashton Eaton, the Men's Decathlon world champion. I really admire their strength and passion when they compete.
Do you play other sports?
In the winter I play football for my school’s First XI team.
What are you doing academically at school and do you know what you’ll be doing next year?
I take Calculus, Biology, History, Photography and PE and am currently working towards NCEA L3. I’m not really sure of what I’m doing next year which is why I’m taking such a broad range of subjects.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand