Senior Boys 800m winner Dylan Forde summed up the race as a “blur” moments after collecting his winner’s medal this afternoon at the Hawke’s Bay Sports Park on the third and final afternoon of the NZSSA Track and Field Championships.
There were some dramatic finishes to several finals on another sweltering afternoon showcasing the best secondary school track and field athletes from the length and breath of the country.
None more so that the Senior Boys 800m that saw several runners still in contention as the runners hit the home straight and an ensuing blanket finish, with Central Southland College’s Forde hitting the finish line just ahead of the others.
“I can’t believe it, I can’t remember a lot of it,” said Forde. “The pace quickened up in that second lap and I didn’t know if I could do it with some great athletes out there who I guess all pulled me through.”
Forde won the race in 1.54.57, with Macleans College’s Flynn Palmer second in 1.55.10, St Pat’s Wellington’s Josh Nairne third in 1.55.12 and Sacred Heart College’s Jono Ansley across the line in fourth in 1.55.34.
The winning time for this race last year in Auckland by St Bede’s College’s Tom Moulai was 1.54.43. The record of 1.50.24 set in 2011 Brad Mathas of Cullinane College in Wanganui, stands for another year at least.
“In the last 400m the pace increased probably half as much again. I didn’t know if I could keep up. With 300m to go Flynn Palmer picked it up and pulled away and I thought here we go; this is going to be a long second lap!”
Forde won both his heat on Friday afternoon and his semi-final on Saturday.
He credited his light build-up to the NSSA Nationals – courtesy of a leg [Iliotibial band] injury – as helping him qualify for the final and then come through and win.
“I haven’t done any long runs in the past two months, and have been doing much of my training the pool in recent times. A lot of these other guys have been running some hard races."
Forde’s school Central Southland College is proving it’s the little school that could in the athletics space. Other recent CSC athletes to feature strongly at the national and international level include fellow runner Jack Beaumont and long jump and triple jump champion Atipa Mabonga.
Forde started taking running seriously in year 9. “I got a couple of wins under my belt in Southland athletics and then that got me going. I’ve been really happy with my coach Lorne – he is a brilliant coach, he lets us play other sports and that is all part of our speed training.”
Another CSC athlete doing well at the Nationals this weekend was Adam Norman, who got second on Saturday in the Senior Boys Triple Jump, behind winner Andrew Allan of Gore High School in Southland, and then finished seventh in the Senior Boys High Jump not long after Forde’s 800m racw was playing out.
Of note, three of the four NZSS triple jump records are held by Southlanders.
As well as athletics, Forde plays both basketball and rugby. Just finishing year 13, his plans are to head up to Lincoln University on a sports scholarship.
Meanwhile, the Senior Boys 1500m race was won by Hamilton Boys’ High School’s Isaiah Priddey, backing up his 3,000m win on Saturday, while Wellington East Girls College’s Tessa Hunt did the Senior Girls 800m-1500m double on Sunday afternoon.
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