The future is wide open for newly crowned New Zealand U18 Heptathlon champion Maddie Wilson.
In her first attempt at the seven-event heptathlon at the New Zealand Combined Events Championships in Christchurch this past weekend, Maddie not only won the national U18 title, she came up just 91 points shy of qualifying for the Oceania Age Group Championships later this year in Townsville.
The year 13 Gisborne Girls’ High School head girl won with 4709 points, and she heads to Sydney in April for the Australian U20 Nationals with the mark of 4800 points in her sights.
The heptathlon consists of the 100m hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, 200m, Long Jump, Javelin and 800m run and points are awarded in each event and totaled up at the end for the winning score.
Considering her limited experience competing in some of the events and adversity in training in her home town of Gisborne her prospects are good.
“We don’t have a track in Gisborne, which is a really big problem,” says Maddie. “My main event is High Jump, but not having a track means that I can’t practice with a proper run up for both High jump and Long Jump.
My coach Terry Lomax is based in Christchurch and he gives me drills and a training programme to follow as best as I can.”
“This weekend just gone was actually the second long jump I have done in three years! About three weeks I drove to Tauranga with my dad to compete in an open meet there so I could practice a run up and get some long jumps in before this past weekend’s Combined Events Nationals.”
What about running training?
“The only chance I get to run on a track is when I get to compete, but in Gizzy I train with my running coach Arna Majstrovic and in a squad that includes NZ U16, U19 and Junior World beach sprint champion and school friend Briana Irving, and previous junior black fin representative Jamie Gedye. “
The group either trains on grass at the Awapuni Stadium in Gisborne or on the beach.
“Most of us do lifesaving as well as athletics, so we are at home training on the beach,” explains Maddie.
Maddie competes for local club Waikanae in sprints and board races, and has medalled in national age-grade surf life saving events too. There are similarities in the two sports and they often complement each other.
“For example, all the paddling I do is good for building up my arms and strength for throwing the javelin and shot put.”
So how did Maddie get into the combined athletics events?
“I have always done well in the high jump and at the New Zealand Secondary School nationals in Hastings at the end of 2017, I defended my Junior Girls High Jump title with a PB of 1.70m.
“ I have also given other events a go throughout my childhood at the local club nights and managed to do well at both the throwing and running aspects, so my coach Terry Lomax, who is the Athletics NZ Combined Events lead coach pointed me in the direction of the heptathlon.
“At this meet last year I won the U16 Hexathlon, which has one fewer event [no long jump]. That was my first time doing a competitive shot put, javelin and 600m [shorter distance].” At the NZSS Nationals in Dunedin in December she competed in the 200m (finishing eighth), 100m Hurdles (eighth) and High Jump (fifth) in her first year in the senior age group.
Following the Dunedin NZSS Nationals she joined the NZ team in Cairns at the Australian Secondary School nationals, finishing sixth in the high jump but she was below her best.
The Combined Event Nationals featured a field of about 20 athletes competing together in the U18, U20, Senior and Masters grades in the women’s heptathlon. Last year’s U18 winner Kayla Goodwin (Sacred Heart College, Hamilton) won the U20 section with 4745 points and an athlete from Japan, Yuki Yamasaki, won the senior event with 5524 points.
“It was so amazing to watch Yuki and compete alongside her and the others this weekend,” said Maddie. “The experience of being around those top athletes who are experienced in the all-round events was great for me.”
How did the weekend pan out for Maddie?
“First off I did a massive PB in the Hurdles. That came a week after running a 0.8s PB at the Porritt Classic [in Hastings], and I beat that by 0.4s which felt super good!”
“I was pretty happy with how I jumped - I missed 1.71m, which would have been a High Jump PB. I also did a PB in shot put and I was happy with the 200m as well, so I ended day one feeling good.”
“I was leading going into day two. I got caught up a little bit in the long jump, but extended my lead in the javelin. They always say it always comes down to the 800m, which I won with a new PB, to finish on top.”
Sam MacKinder (Palmerston North Girls’ High School) and Julia Burnham (Villa Maria College) were the second and third placed finishers in the U18 section.
Maddie would like to say a big thank you to both her parents and three coaches, Terry Lomax (jumping and combined events), Arna Majstrovic (running) and Cory Hutchings (surf lifesaving) for their all their time, support they give to her.
“Terry is very understanding and wants me to continue doing lots of different sports as I have from a young age. Currently I am still doing athletics, surf lifesaving and football.”
Maddie first came under Lomax’s wing in year 10 when she moved to Christchurch for a year with her family, attending St Margaret’s College. During that year he helped her out with her technique and training, primarily for high jump but also setting the groundwork for other events she is now competing in as part of the heptathlon.
As well as her sports, Maddie is also academically minded. Last year she sat and gained a scholarship in Level 3 Scholarship biology, although she was only in Level 2. She is interested in studying health science at Otago University post- school but is leaning towards taking a gap year and moving back to Christchurch to train for athletics to see where that path takes her.
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