The climax to the senior boys’ 400m at the National Track and Field Championships in Timaru on Sunday was perhaps the most exciting moment of the meeting.
Alex Haye from St. Pats Town was a mile behind the highly promising Oliver Miller from St. Peter’s College, Auckland. Somehow Haye managed to pip Miller on the line.
Haye was a silver-medallist in the same event a year ago and took a philosophical approach into the meeting.
“I’m only ever going to be as fast as my last race. If I learned anything from 2014 it was that winning was never going to be easy, it takes a lot of skill and dedication,” he says.
Haye run personal bests in the 100m and 200m in regional meetings prior to Nationals. He was confident he could carry this form with him to the South Island.
“My main strategy was just to run my own race. Last year I got a bit overwhelmed because it was my first nationals where I had a chance of winning. I tried to run a Bailey Stewart (2014 winner) type of race rather than my own. I had been training since North Island’s so I knew what I had to do,” Haye says.
Haye fell behind from the start, but at no stage did he panic.
“Oliver Miller and Harry Symes were great competition. I think Oliver Miller has a lot of talent as he still has two more years. The conditions were great to run in which helped with my finish,” Haye admits.
Haye kept a lid on things until the last 100m.
“I just analysed things throughout the race. I changed a few things here and there. In the last 100m I decided to go, I had to, but I thought I could win it.”
Miller still lead with 50-meters to go. He led with 20-meters to go, but a late surge and lunge saw Haye prevail in a personal best time of 48.02sec.
Haye, who won seven McEvedy Shield races in just three years, credits coach Yarride Rosario with much of his success. Rosario is a Town old boy who competed in the Junior Olympics in 2010.
A fortnight ago, Taradale High School year 13 student Laura Langley won the New Zealand U20 10km at the Athletics New Zealand Long Distance Walks Championships. This Sunday, she competes in the Girls 2,000m Track Walk at the New Zealand Secondary School Athletics Championships in Timaru. We caught up with Laura ahead of the meet.
You’re entered in the 2,000m Walk this weekend, what are your expectations?
The aim is to win. I have got my eye on the record of 8.57 set by Kate Newitt [Linwood College] in 2007 although any time in the low 9 minute range I'll be happy with.
What other events are coming up after the NZSS Championships?
At the recent Long Distance championships I was hoping to qualify for the race walking World Cup 2016 (U20 10km road walk), but I was 2 seconds off the qualifying time for that. So after the NZSS nationals, my next goal is to qualify for that. I also am planning on competing in a couple of races over in Austalia next year, to get some more experience of racing against other people, as there aren’t a lot of race walkers in NZ.
How did you get into your sport?
At the 2014 NZ road champs, I went away with a team to run in the 5km U18 race. The manager of the team was a race walker from my harrier club and after my race he asked me if I was interested in trying race walking. So I thought, why not. So in December last year, I began race walking with Graeme Jones, and absolutely loved it. I gave up my running soon after and became a walker.
Talk us through your achievements thus far in 2015?
My first nationals were in March this year, where I did the 3000m track race and placed first in that (well... I was only one in my age group). I also won the 10km road race, which, at the time, was the longest distance I had ever race walked, even in training. At the recent Long Distance champs, in Auckland, I came 2nd overall, in the 10km race but as it was a NZ event, the Aussie girl that won it wasn't able to get the NZ title. It was awesome to race against her, she was the top Aussie for her age group, and had placed 18th at the world junior champs last year in the 10km race. The difference in time between my first 10km and most recent 10km is 13 minutes, which I believe is one of my greatest achievements so far.
Do you prefer the shorter or longer distances?
I love the 2km and 3km track races, they're pretty fast and fun. Although, if you intend on competing internationally, you must be prepared to do the longer distances [the Olympic women’s race is 20km]. For my age group, I race 10km. In 2017 and onwards, I will have to be able to race 20km. I also really enjoy the 10km races, although, you have to be smart when you're racing in a 10km. If you race off too quickly at the start, you blow out, and end up with a disappointing result (as I found out at long distance champs). The 10km is a great challenge though. I really look forward to doing a lot more of them next year.
Who are the New Zealand walkers to look up to?
Although there are not many race walkers in NZ, the ones that are in the sport have all achieved significant things nationally, and gone on to compete internationally. In the first few months of training with Graeme, he told me a lot about two walkers in particular. Alana Barber, and Quentin Rew, who are kiwis living in Aussie. They are our best female and male race walkers. Both of them competed at the World Athletics champs in August this year, Alana Placed 18th in the 20km race, just 20s off qualifying for the Olympics next year. Quentin placed 10th in the 50km race.
This year I was able to meet Alana a few times, when she came over to compete in a few smaller events. It was so amazing being able to meet her, and talk with her. She is incredibly inspiring. She holds the NZ 20km record, of 1.33.20. The 10km record for the junior age group is 49.29, set by Courtney Ruske. I also have been able to race against Courtney (who is now 21). She is amazing. Another great race walker who I have been lucky enough to meet.... although I am looking at chasing that record next year.
Overall, the race walkers in NZ are very dedicated to their sport, and have been very supportive of me and welcoming me into their sport. All of them help me to improve and achieve things with my own race walking.
How tempting is it not to break out into a run? Is it all technique?
A lot of people ask me that! If you do it properly, you will not be tempted to run. The feeling of race walking and running is totally different. Also, it doesn't hurt your hips - people who haven't race walked think that. To me, I feel race walking is much smoother on the joints. But that's with a good technique; I owe that to my coach, Graeme Jones. Graeme is an incredible coach. He has taught me everything I know about the sport. He is a pretty amazing walker too. This year he broke four NZ records on the track: the six hour record, the 12 hour record, the 50 mile record and the 100km record. He also holds the junior 3000m record of 12.16, which he set 25 years ago.
What does your training consist of?
There is a lot of training that goes along with preparing for big events. I walk six days a week, which is usually on the roads around home and sometimes on the track for speed sessions, swim once, and do core work 2-3 times a week. I can never get enough of it. I love walking, and preparing for big events. If you are focussed on a goal, it's easy. I get excited just for training sessions quite often, because with every session I'm getting better and making another step towards my goal of being an Olympian and competing at a world class level.
How many pairs of shoes have you burnt though?
With running, I would need a new pair every year, and I could use my training flats to race in as well. With walking, they get destroyed after six months. I have lighter shoes for racing, and a more durable shoe for training.
What are your plans for next year study or work-wise?
Next year I am taking a gap year, to work and earn some money (to walk in events overseas). I also don't know exactly what I want to do as a future career. So at the moment I am working on an orchard, and will most likely continue working there until February next year.
NZSS Track and Field Champs have complete a full day of preliminaries with the top 32 sprinters locked in for finals on Sunday. Jordan Bolland was the only athlete to go sub 11... but there are a few others that have the ability ... roll on tomorrow.
Jordan Bolland Northcote College 10.98Q
Ethan Holman Tauranga Boys Co 11.11Q
Yuta Matsuo St Thomas of Can 11.28Q
Jonty Morison Rathkeale Colleg 11.33Q
Jake Paul Wellington College 11.38Q
Kamal Singh Patwalia Macleans College 11.47Q
Tom Yarrall St Paul's Colleg 11.49Q
Nicholas Smith St Patricks Coll 11.34Q
Jacob Minshull St Patricks Coll 11.37Q
Bailey Cotton Nayland College 11.38Q
Jonathon O'Donnell Tauranga Boys Co 11.46Q
Thomas Rawstrom Tauranga Boys Co 11.54Q
Michael Knight Palmerston North 11.67Q
Alex Ryder Christchurch Boy 11.71Q
Sal M'Boge St Paul's Colleg 11.39Q
Yuta Sugeno Palmerston North 11.50Q
Schuyler Orr Waitaki Boys 11.67Q
Arthur Lin Auckland Grammar 11.71Q
Bryce Craigen Burnside High Sc 11.72Q
Aidan Smith Palmerston North 11.74Q
Will Wrightson Auckland Grammar 11.75Q
Oscar Szeto Wellington College 11.48q
Connor Bithell Motueka High School 11.51q
Javon McCallum New Plymouth Boy 11.60q
Logan Carroll Teao Tamatea High School 11.61q
Paula Folau Macleans College 11.62q
Nathan MacDonell Kings High School 11.64q
Sam Moulson Cashmere High Sc 11.73q
Jackson Hutchinson Shirley Boys Hig 11.78q
Taooa Vaevaemaki Cook Islands 11.82q
Christiann Smit Lincoln High School 11.84q
John (Sunghun) Kwon Rangitoto College 11.86q
Zoe Hobbs will be aiming for her fourth straight win in the sprints at the New Zealand secondary schools track and field championships at the Aorangi Stadium in Timaru this weekend.
The 18 year old from New Plymouth Girls’ High School won the junior girls sprint double in 2012 and the senior double for the last two years. Hobbs who has a best 100m of 11.76 and 200m of 24.01 is also the New Zealand junior women’s 100m, 200m and long jump champion.
Pressing Hobbs hard in both the 100m and 200m finals will be the Havelock North flyer Georgia Hulls, the junior girls double sprint champion for the last two years and the New Zealand youth sprint champion. Hulls has best times of 11.85 and 24.09. Given favourable conditions they could be knocking on the door of the long standing 100m record of 11.66 by Kim Robertson in 1973 and the 200m record of 23.91 by April Brough in 2002.
Christina Ashton and Phoebe Edwards will have matched hurdles in the 100m hurdles final on Sunday morning an hour prior to the 100m final.
Heading the senior boys sprints will be Ethan Holman, Jordan Bolland, Jonty Morison and Bailey Cotton. As in most years the senior boys 400m will be keenly contested. Alex Haye and Harry Symes both with times just under 49 seconds will face the younger up and coming sprinter Oliver Miller who has clocked 48.91 this season.
Miller, who will also contest the 300m hurdles, said that his focus has been on the schools championships.
“I haven’t stopped training since the North Islands here in April. I’ve been going hard all winter and really looking forward to the first big comp of the season,” he said.
“In the 400m you’ve got Alex and Harry both run the 49 flat mark and that’s where it’s going to be, they’re big boys I’m going to have to work hard against them. They’re year 13’s ending so it’s going to be hard, they’re older than me,” he added.
The senior girls 400m should be a three way battle between Alison Andrews-Paul with a best of 56.35, Amanda Fitisemanu 55.91 and Shannon Gearey 55.36.
Lucy Jacobs lines up against Ari Graham, Arianna Lord and Isobel Hegan in the senior girls 800m.
Jacobs who has a best of 2:09.91 has just come through a solid winter of training.
“I’ve had a perfect winter, I changed coaches (now with Maria Hassan) and I was really happy with that and I’ve sort of changed the way I train so I’m really happy with the change and I think this season is going to be a good one,” she said after a final work out on Saturday.
Jacobs will decide after the 800m whether she will contest the 1500m.
A good field of Harry Ewing, Daniel Hintz, Matthew Manning, Tom Moulai, James Harsveld and Jonathan Ansley will contest the senior boys 800m.
Ewing will also be doubling up at the championships in the 1500m and will take on the rapidly improving Guy Kilmister, James Uhlenberg and Theo Quax.
Schools cross country champion Conal Wilson will face a tough race against Cameron Avery, Oliver Chignell and Jacob Holmes in the 3000m while Sophie Rees should fight out the senior girls 3000m with Emerson Deverell.
Jack Beaumont national junior men’s 3000m steeplechase champion will be defending his 2000m steeplechase title and in the process give Geoff Shaw’s 1975 record of 5:52.90 a nudge. World youth championships representative Kelsey Forman should win the girls 2000m steeplechase. Leading runners in the road races are Uhlenberg in the boys 6km and Hanna English in the girls 4km.
Ben Power will be in action in the shot put, discus throw and hammer throw as will Scott Gregory and Hugh McLeod-Jones. Ryan Ballantyne who extended his Waikato Bay of Plenty under 18 record to 19.50m on Sunday should dominate the shot put. Kai Mason is down for the shot, discus and javelin throw.
David Van Den Bogaard the national junior champion will be up against the national youth champion Arnold Fage and the in-form Alex Mander in the triple jump. Kamal Patwalia who has cleared 7.06m this season should win the long jump.
James Steyn, Alex Mander and Ben Kennedy will feature in the pole vault, while in the high jump Dean Van der Busse should clear over two metres for the title.
Emma Kruszona has the senior girls hammer title in her sights along with Amber-Lee Brown who is also contesting the shot put and javelin throw. Maddison Wesche should win the shot put, Larissa McKewen is the leading competitor in the discus throw as is Eliza Harris in the javelin throw.
Atipa Mabonga is entered in the triple and long jumps. Last year in Wanganui Mabonga set a senior girls record of 12.21m in the triple jump and was second on countback to Edwards in the long jump with 5.80m. Emma Hopcroft third last year, Edwards and Mabonga should battle out the long jump title again.
The championships, held over three days will feature 1200 athletes from 194 schools.
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