It's been an unusually cold summer in Wellington, but that hasn't stopped Hutt Valley High School sprinter Nick Smith from pursuing hot times on the track.
The National Secondary Schools 100m and 200m senior champion has his sights set on a scholarship in the USA, but he needs to keep his pedal on the metal.
"The weather has been pretty frustrating. It has prevented me from running as quickly as I would like, but I have been competing against open aged athletes, which has pushed me because you always have somebody to chase," Smith says.
Smith has managed podium finishes at the Cook, Capital and Porritt Classics which are open events. Since December he has reduced his personal best times over both distances. His PB in the 100m is 10.71s while in the 200m his quickest time is 21.80s. The time Smith is desperate to beat is the National Under-18 100m record of 10.55s shared by Kodi Harman and Joshua Billington.
"In April I am going to California to compete at the Arcadia Invitational where there will be many scouts. If I can run a time below 10.6s I will be competitive and increase my chances of being recognised," Smith explains.
The Arcadia Invitational has produced 152 US Olympians and the 100m record at the age group meet is a lighting 10.17s held by American Noah Lyles.
Prior to that Smith will compete in a series of interclub and zone meeting in both age group and open categories. The first indication of how competitive he could be in the US will happen in late March when he appears at the Australian Championships where recent sensation Jack Hale is likely to make an appearance.
"It's the first time high school athletes have competed in the Australian Open's. It will be tough, but if I can make a final and keep reducing my times I will be happy. It's going to be a massive year," Smith enthuses.
P.S. Don Jowett, also an old boy of Hutt Valley High School, was admitted to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame during the annual Halberg Awards evening last Thursday. Jowett is unique in the annals of New Zealand athletics in that he is the only New Zealand sprinter to win a gold medal at a major international meeting. At the 1954 Vancouver British Empire and Commonwealth Games he won gold in the 220 yards and silver in the 440 yards. At the 1950 Auckland Empire Games he won bronze in the 220 yards. He won three New Zealand 220 yards titles and four 440 yards titles. He set a New Zealand 100 yards record in 1949. He was an IAAF track referee and Otago representative rugby player. It seems spiriting runs deep at Hutt Valley High School.
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