In July 2018, Ollie Krijnen was playing football at Fraser Park when his temperamental back completely imploded.
“It just went. I’d been in pain for a couple of weeks but thought nothing of it. I was chasing a through ball and just fell over. I was in agony and had to be carried off the field,” Krijnen recalled.
For the next year Krijnen was unable to compete in competitive sprinting - denied the chance to push for the National Junior 100 metres title which he was odds-on to win.
“There was a grieving process. I really struggled with school and was in denial about it for months,” Krijnen admitted.
“The school was really supportive offering me a counsellor and my orthopaedic surgeon is my hero. Basically I had to rest the back and slowly re-strengthen it.”
The restless Krijnen would initially walk for nine minutes and sprint for one minute, increasing the running time as his fitness improved. Additionally core exercises were performed to make the back muscles more “compact.”
“Being out so long was humbling. It helped me mature and appreciate the good things I have. My back is always in the back of my mind, but I’ve learned how to manage things better,” Krijnen reflected.
In September, Krijnen at last resumed competition sprinting and two weeks before this past weekend’s New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Nationals ran a PB of 11.30 in Palmerston North.
“I knew things were going nicely when I ran a PB in Palmerston North. I was worried about a couple of guys at Nationals who I’d beaten in close races, but Palmy gave me a lot of confidence,” Krijnen revealed.
The weather at Newtown Park gave nobody confidence. A swirling wind and heavy track was a great leveller.
“The rain was in our faces and the wind actually changed from a head wind to a cross wind before the start. It was hard to bounce off the track, you had to be careful at the start,” Krijnen said.
Krijnen managed a clean start and building speed in the middle helped him claim national honours in 11.34.
He powered to the finish line in an outside lane, edging Orewa College’s Ethen Lagatule into second and Paraparaumu College’s Ben Lambert into third.
Two other College Sport Regional athletes were in the Junior Boys 100m final, Lambert’s Paraparaumu College teammate Max Tofts who came fifth and Hutt International Boys Schools’ Tyrone Trego who brought home the eight-sprinter field.
“It means a lot to win after everything my coach, family and I have been through. I just want to thank everyone for their support,” Krijnen said.
Krijnen was Silverstream’s first national gold medallist since Fletcher Greaves won the junior 400m title in 2011.
Senior 100m champion Edward Osei-Nketia was seen congratulating Krijnen after his success.
“He’s a real nice guy who has lifted the profile of the sport,” Krijnen enthused.
Krijnen was captain of the Silverstream athletics team that won the Neville Shield against St Pat’s Town, claiming individual victories in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
In the summer Krijnen will compete in the Capital and Cook Classics and he’s been selected in a New Zealand relay team that will partake in a series of summer fixtures.
Three national titles and a meet record.
All achieved in perhaps the most difficult weather conditions that could have been served up at the Newtown Park Stadium on Saturday and Sunday at the 47th NZSSA Track and Field Championships.
Lashings of wind and rain on both days didn’t faze Quinn Hartley, who won all three Junior Boys jump titles, which included a new meet record of 6.94m +0.4 in the long jump.
The tall, laid back James Hargest College athlete won the long jump title on Saturday morning and then followed it up in the afternoon with the triple jump win. On Sunday he returned to take the high jump.
Talking after his long jump win, he expressed his satisfaction in winning and breaking the record.
“It feels great to have done that, I really wanted to do that going into the competition and all the training is paying off,” he said.
Hartley’s previous personal best in the long jump was 6.43m, so he broke this by half a metre.
He actually broke the record twice. “The big jump was my fifth jump, but in my first jump I got out good and did 6.81m which was 2cm more than the record.”
The previous record was held by Kelvin Sefton of Pukekohe High School - set in 1974.
In winning the triple jump later that day, Hartley jumped 13.34m, which was 6cm short of the record. On Sunday the wind had died down somewhat, but lashings of moderate to heavy rain dominated the competition. He won the high jump with a clearance of 1.94m.
Second placed Harvey Meyer of Whanganui Collegiate also jumped a high jump PB with 1.83m.
Hartley went into the national championships having broken the Southland U16, U18 and U20 high jump records with a jump of 2.03m.
This backed up his performance at the Athletics New Zealand meet in March, winning the men's under-18 high jump with a leap of 1.91m.
Hartley went one better than last year at the NZSS meet in Dunedin, when he also won gold in the junior long and triple jumps while collecting a bronze in the high jump.
He has just finished year 11, so 2019 was his final year as a junior.
Hartley started athletics when he was a youngster “doing all the events.”
“But I have really grown to like jumping over the past four years or so.”
Hartley thanked all the people who have supported him, not least his coach Chris Knight and his parents who supported him in Wellington all weekend.
What is coming up over the summer? “I am doing the Cooks Classic [Whanganui], the Potts Classic [Hastings] and Jumps to Music in Hawera as well.” Plus the New Zealand Track and Field Championships in Christchurch in early March.
In the winter he also plays social football for a school to keep up his fitness.
A big future in athletics beckons.
NZSSA Track & Field Championships Junior Boys jumping results at a glance:
1.Quinn Hartley (James Hargest College) 6.94m PB record
2. Angus Lyver (Palmerston North Boys’ High School) 6.33m
3. Ari Koed Chang (Wellington College) 5.96m
1.Quinn Hartley (James Hargest College) 13.34m
2. Jacky Dai (Whanganui Collegiate) 12.65m
3. Ethan Gow (Lincoln High School) 12.51m 3.
1.Quinn Hartley (James Hargest College) 1.94m
2. Harvey Meyer (Whanganui Collegiate) 1.83m
3. Levi Ferguson (Middleton Grange School) 1.80m
A patient race and a determined kick up the home straight gave Whanganui Collegiate’s Liam Back the 2019 Senior Boys 1500m title at a wet and wild Newtown Park in Wellington on Sunday in the NZSSA Track and Field Championships.
For the second consecutive year, the Senior Boys winner of the blue ribbon 1500m was also the current NZSS Cross Country champion, after Bethlehem College’s Sam Tanner won the title in 2018.
Sunday’s win was anything but plain sailing for Back, who reeled in former school teammate and now Te Kura athlete Will Sinclair with about 30 metres to run and then held off fast-finishing King’s College runner and Saturday’s Senior Boys 3000m winner Zane Powell to win at the tape.
Back was elated to win, after coming second to King’s College’s James Harding in the final of the 800m.
“It was a tough race earlier in the day in the 800m, so to come through with a couple of good laps really set it up for a good sprint finish and I just managed to beat my training partner Will Sinclair in the final few metres," he said.
Back ran the perfect 1500m race, sitting in just behind the leaders for most of the race, who included at various stages Timaru Boys’ High School’s George Guerin, St Peter’s School’s James Corbett and Powell and Burnside High School’s Daniel Roswell.
“I had to run that race like that – I ended up burning up in the 800m, so I knew that I had to leave it right to the end to come through. So I was really sitting in there and being patient, which was my game plan.”
Luckily Back avoided high drama at the start of the bell lap, with then race leader James Corbett taking a fall on the inside of the track and crashing into a Sky Television cameraman (right).
Unfortunately for Corbett, his race was done, while the cameraman was back at his lens to record the final lap unfold.
Was Back aware of what happened? “No, I was still hanging back at that point, but I saw the cameraman fall over and it was all on. I got clipped and it got a bit ugly at that point – I went out three lanes and just tried to get clear.”
In difficult conditions, Back’s winning time was 4:04.92, second placed Powell’s was 4:04.98 and third placed Sinclair’s was 4:05.10. The meet record in this race is 3:46.92, set by St John’s Hastings runner Richard Potts in 1989.
Of note, Back’s Whanganui Collegiate teammate Sophie Williams lowered the oldest meeting record of the meet in Saturday’s Junior Girls quarter-finals. Kaitaia College’s Myra Matkovich had run 11.88s in 1973, with Williams setting a new mark 46 years later of 11.86s.
Back was philosophical about coming second in the 800m final, a couple of hours before the 1500m decider. “I got chewed up in the last 30 metres.”
“I will be honest, I was trying to get the double. The last person to do that was Nick Willis.”
This was Back’s second NZSSA track title, winning the Junior 1500m two years ago in Hastings, and winning the NZSS Cross Country title in June this year.
He won this year’s cross country race with similar tactics, sitting second throughout most of the race behind Scots College’s Will Anthony and then taking the race-winning lead with about 150m to go. “That was a tough battle, that was a hilly course down in Timaru.”
What happens now for Back? “From now until next August I am just working and training in New Zealand before I head over the United States to Providence University.”
He is hoping to run all through summer. “I hope to do the Classic meets and then on to Nationals in Christchurch.”
Back is coached by Whanganui Collegiate’s Alec McNab, but has assistance from different people as well.
Below: Liam Back wins the Senior Boys 1500m race.
Jaidyn Busch (Christchurch Girls’ High School) and Kaia Tupu-South (Westlake Girls’ High School) won the Senior Girls’ Shot Put and Discus events in blustery conditions at Wellington’s Newtown Park on Saturday afternoon on day two of the 47th NZSSA Track and Field Championships.
Both throwers battled competitive fields as well as the elements to win their competitions, both defending their titles that they won last year in Dunedin.
Jaidyn said she was motivated to give it her all, and threw a best of 16.51m with her penultimate throw to head the 22-strong field of Senior Girls Discus throwers.
“I just wanted to leave everything out there, it is my last year and I just to push it out there and hope for the best, she said.
“It is always a really strong competition with all the other girls, so it was just great to win again.”
Jaidyn wasn’t entered in any other events, so how was she going to celebrate?
“I will go and get some KFC with my family! Then I will stay around and support the rest of the my team and watch some other events.”
This was year 13s Jaidyn’s last act of her school career, which earlier this year saw her represent CGHS at No. 8 in the Top 4 rugby tournament in Palmerston North that saw them as beaten finalists. She enjoyed watching many of her teammates win the Condor 7s last weekend.
Next year she plans on training hard for future events and starting study in Christchurch in teaching and early childhood care.
Kaia, who is year 12 and is Westlake GHS head girl in 2020, was second in the Senior Girls Shot Put with a best of 16.34m, with St Andrew’s thrower Tapenisa Havea third with a best on the day of 16.03m.
Tairi College's Zharna Beattie threw a personal best in finishing fifth and broke the Otago Secondary School’s record by about a metre and a half.
Jaidyn won the SG Shot Put last year with a best hurl of 16.00m, so her winning effort was a full 51cm improvement on that. In turn it was exactly 51cm short of the meet record set by Lynfield College’s Maddison Wesche two years ago in Hastings.
A few hours later, Kaia summed up her Senior Girls Discus win a word as “stressful.”
“You never know when someone is going to do something big – all it takes is one throw.”
She needn’t have worried, winning by over six metres to second placed Zharna Beattie.
Kaia’s winning throw was 46.25m, achieved with her final throw of the competition, but she had bettered 45m and then 43m in earlier rounds.
Runner-up Zharna threw 40.69m and last year’s Junior champion St Cuthbert’s College’s Violette Perry was third with a best throw of the 1.0kg implement of 39.30m. There were 20 competitors in the field.
Like Jaidyn in the Shot Put, Kaia won this event last year with a best of 44.88m in 2018.
Kaia was pleased to win the SG Discus, but was hoping to do the double heading into the day. “I really wanted to win the Shot Put as well, but coming second in that was extra motivation to win the Discus.”
“I have always got a silver in Shot Put and a gold in Discus – so hopefully next year.
Kaia said the wind was a tough and definitely a factor in the Discus event.
“I am happy though for the day today, everyone was finding it hard in the wind this afternoon.”
Kaia’s PB is 47.90, so in favourable conditions in competitions coming up she is hopeful of surpassing that distance.
Meanwhile, the Junior Girls Shot Put was won by Natalia Rankin-Chitar from Saint Kentigern College, with Elizabeth Hewitt from Chilton St James second and Suzannah Kennelly from Auckland Dio third.
The same three competitors filled the gold, silver and bronze medals on the podium of the Junior Girls Discus, with Natalia doing the double and winning, and Suzannah second and Elizabeth third.
Elizabeth Hewitt had won the Junior Girls Hammer throw on day one of the meet on Friday, heading off Manurewa High School sisters Jasmine and Jamane into the second and third.
The Senior Girls Hammer Throw is scheduled for Sunday at 11.00am.
On Monday, Jaidyn, Kaia and other leading athletes from this weekend’s Track and Field Championships will be attending a Pathway to Podium camp.
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