Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton, athlete Kayla Goodwin is leading a group of all-round female track and field athletes to current success.
This past weekend at Cooks Gardens, Whanganui, year 12 athlete Kayla not only defended her New Zealand women’s U18 heptathlon title, she broke the national record and broke through the 5000-point barrier at the same time.
Kayla’s 5007 points betters former Junior World Championship fifth placed finisher Portia Bing’s 2010 record of 4947 and her own points tally of 4752 in winning this same event last year.
This weekend Kayla competes in Melbourne at the Australian Junior Combined Event Championships. Next weekend she is at the National Championships at home at Hamilton.
Kayla won six of the seven heptathlon events in Whanganui.
“Everything came together for me over the two days,” she said. “My hurdles race was probably most satisfying, because that was a PB and a Waikato U18 record. That was the first event, which helped.”
Other events on day one were the high jump, shot put and the 200m. Day two was the long jump, javelin and the 800m to finish, which was the only event she didn’t win.
Zoe Taylor (Rutherford College) was second and Sam MacInder (Manukura) was third.
Also filling the first three places in the U20 heptathlon were year 13 athletes, Kayla’s good friend and training partner Alessandra Macdonald (Fairfield College), Hayley Marx (Pukekohe High School) and former St Hilda’s Collegiate athlete Joccoaa Palmer.
Louis Northcott (Kapiti College) and Shaun Woodd (Central Southland College) were first and second in the U18 men’s decathlon.
Kayla said she had been training hard for last weekend’s NZ Combined Championships, this weekend’s trip to Auckland also the NZ Track and Field Championships next week.
“All the training I have done paid off for me. The past month and a half after the secondary schools nationals I have been focusing on the heptathlon nationals and this current period of competition.
“I have got a good training partner, Alessandra Macdonald, who did the U20 heptathlon with me, so it made training easier and more fun.
“The NZ Championships are here in Hamilton on my home track. There are no hepthalon events there, so I am entered in six individual events there.”
She also entered in individual events in her first year as a senior at last December’s NZSS Championships in Hastings, where in the space of a couple of hours of disappointment turned to elation.
“I was disqualified for a false start from my 100m hurdles heat. But an hour later the Senior Girls triple jump started so I had to put that behind me and refocus for that. I ended up winning this so that made up for it.”
Kayla jumped 11.95m with her second jump, which proved the gold medal leap, sealing her win on her sixth attempt with a 12.10m jump. Her friend Lisa Putt from Saint Kentigern College finished second with a best of 11.78m with Jamie Speer from Massey High School was third with 11.72m.
She also finished fifth in the Senior Girls’ long jump in Hastings.
The triple jump is not part of the heptathlon. But is it her favourite event? “I don’t really have a favourite event or one that I think am really good at. It is kind of whatever happens on the day.”
Last winter she competed at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas. She finished fifth in the long jump and 14th in the hurdles.
Kayla was awarded one of four prestigious Nick Willis scholarships at the North Island Colgate Games in 2016, later in the year competing at the Polynesian U18 Championships in Tahiti and winning gold in triple jump, silver in the long jump and bronze in the high jump.
Kayla explained how she got into athletics. “I have been doing athletics since I was four; I followed my older brother down and joined in. I always gave everything a go!”
Her brother is 2016 Hamilton Boys’ High School Sports Captain and athlete Christopher Goodwin.
At the December 2016 NZSS Championships in Auckland Kayla won Junior Girls Long Jump, 80m hurdles and triple jump events and was second in the 300m hurdles. Chris won the Senior Boys triple jump and was second in both the high jump and long jump.
Brother Chris is now on an athletics scholarship at the University of Central Missouri, and he watched the live stream of Kayla’s winning performance from Whanganui this past weekend.
Kayla’s dad John is her coach and her parents are hugely supportive.
Junior track 300m-400m and 800m runner Krystie Solomon is another promising athlete from Sacred Heart Hamilton, alongside Kayla.
Kayla plays football for school, club and reps as a “wing or striker,” so is busy and active year-round. In the classroom she is just starting NCEA Level 2.
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